24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
AHA News: More People Are Dying During the Pandemic – and Not Just From COVID-19Antiviral Drugs Tied to Heart Issue in COVID-19 PatientsMost Survivors of Severe COVID-19 Report Symptoms Many Weeks After 'Recovery'Terrifying Delirium Can Strike Hospitalized COVID-19 PatientsCold War Antiseptic May Be Valuable Germ FighterWith Social Distancing, Schools Should Be Safe to Reopen This Fall, Experts SayU.S. Sees Another Record-Breaking Day of New Coronavirus Cases'Aerosol Boxes' Meant to Protect COVID Health Teams Might Harm Them: StudyAHA News: Where Do New Viruses Like the Coronavirus Come From?Blood Test May Reveal Concussion Severity With Accuracy of Spinal TapIn Many Cases, Hip Replacement Also Eases Back Pain'Broken Heart Syndrome' Has Risen During Pandemic: StudyCoronavirus Fears Kept Many Essential Workers at Home in April: StudyExposure to Iodine in the NICU May Affect Infant Thyroid FunctionA Dangerous Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria May Now Lurk in U.S. Water, SoilZika May Have Damaged More Infants' Brains Than ExpectedU.S. Air Pollution Still at Deadly Levels, Study FindsCOVID-19 Outbreaks at Meat Processing Plants Are Hitting Minorities HardU.S. Coronavirus Cases Near 3 Million as Hospitals in Sun Belt Fill Up With PatientsAHA News: Months After Infection, Many COVID-19 Patients Can't Shake IllnessCoronavirus Ups Anxiety, Depression in the LGBTQ CommunityMajor Medical Groups Urge Americans to Wear Face MasksBlack Patients Fare Worse After AngioplastyHow Immune System Fights COVID-19 May Be Key to Vaccine SuccessWill the COVID-19 Pandemic Leave a Mental Health Crisis in Its Wake?New U.S. Coronavirus Cases Hit Another HighMultiple Surgeries for Cleft Lip, Palate Won't Cause Major Psychological DamageHIV May Not Worsen COVID-19 OutlookU.S. Coronavirus Hospitalizations Spiking in South, WestAHA News: To Everything There Is a Season, Including Heart DiseaseAsthma, Allergies Plus Pandemic May Pose 4th of July ChallengesStroke Appears 8 Times More Likely With COVID Than With FluCOVID-19 Death Risk Twice as High in New York City as Some CountriesFireworks Are Bad News for Your LungsScientists Find Source of COVID ClotsNew U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 50,000 as More States Slow Reopening PlansNumbers of Non-COVID-19 Deaths Up During PandemicNo Good Evidence on Accuracy of Coronavirus Antibody Tests: StudyAHA News: COVID-19 Pandemic Brings New Concerns About Excessive DrinkingMuscle Relaxants for Back Pain Are Soaring: Are They Safe?Trauma of Racism Fuels High Blood Pressure Among Black Americans: StudyCOVID-19 Blood Test Might Predict Who Will Need a VentilatorWhat's the Best DIY Face Mask Against COVID-19?Deep Brain Stimulation May Slow Parkinson's, Study FindsU.S. Could See 100,000 New Cases of COVID-19 Each Day, Fauci SaysGlobally, COVID-19 Cases May Stretch Far Beyond Official Numbers: StudyFBI: Beware of Scammers Selling Fake COVID-19 Antibody TestsAHA News: Sadness and Isolation of Pandemic Can Make Coping With Grief HarderVaping-Related Lung Injuries Still Happening -- And May Look Like COVID-19Most With Coronavirus Not Sure How They Caught It: CDC
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics


AHA News: COVID-19 Highlights Long-Term Inequities in Some Communities

HealthDay News
Updated: Jun 25th 2020

new article illustration

THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 (American Heart Association News) -- Just as the coronavirus pandemic strains states and the nation, it also has stressed the resources of neighborhoods and individuals.

And those with fewer resources to spare are clearly faring worse.

An analysis from the newspaper USA Today found that among the nation's poorest neighborhoods, where median household income is less than $35,000, COVID-19 infection was twice as common as in the nation's wealthiest ZIP codes, with income higher than $75,000. Infection rates were five times higher in ZIP codes with mostly nonwhite residents than in ZIP codes with a nonwhite population of less than 10%.

An analysis from Yale School of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh also captures the dire COVID-19 picture among historically disadvantaged communities. African Americans are over 3.5 times as likely, and Latinos are nearly twice as likely, to die of the virus, compared with white people.

Black people account for 13% of the overall U.S. population but nearly a quarter of COVID-19 deaths where patients' race was reported, according to The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer effort to track coronavirus cases and deaths across the U.S.

COVID-19's disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic people and people from lower-income neighborhoods may trace in part to higher rates of underlying conditions such as diabetes and uncontrolled high blood pressure, experts say, which make an infection with the coronavirus riskier.

When COVID-19 strikes, it launches an assault not just on the lungs but also the heart, kidneys and brain, said Dr. Ivor Benjamin, director of the Cardiovascular Center at Medical College of Wisconsin. For someone already overtaxed by underlying disease, the body tries to manage all the illnesses but struggles.

"An already stressed system has very little reserve," Benjamin said. "If there are existing health challenges to the body, the body has maximized its ability to deal with the existing stress."

However, the story of what underlies inequities in COVID-19 outcomes goes deeper, said Benjamin, immediate past president of the American Heart Association. While underlying conditions can be influenced by both genetics and environmental factors such as diet, another layer of influence, called social determinants of health, is critical.

Social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions into which people are born and live. They include housing and food security, public safety, and access to affordable health care and transit. Social determinants impact the health of individuals and groups and are shaped by the distribution of money and other resources.

"COVID-19 is not a great equalizer but really brings to the forefront some of the many issues in health inequities that have plagued our country for decades," said Dr. Garima Sharma, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Baltimore.

An AHA statement last month prompted by recent killings of African Americans notes that pre-existing social conditions, including lack of access to quality health care, jobs, education and housing, have laid the groundwork for the heavier toll COVID-19 has taken among disadvantaged communities.

"The barriers to care in our nation perpetuate the health inequities this pandemic is highlighting," the statement said.

Despite inequities in COVID-19 outcomes, the entire population is vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, Benjamin said. Without treatments or a vaccine, society's key defenses are public health measures, including good hygiene, physical distancing, wearing masks and testing so people can be isolated, quarantined and undergo contact tracing to see who else might have been exposed.

Stay-at-home orders are more challenging, though, he said. It "works very well for certain types of jobs and the affluent due to living conditions." But front-line workers may have fewer options, resulting in higher exposure, he said.

Sharma said adequate levels of testing as well as funding and research for new treatments are key to helping address COVID-19 inequities now.

"We need more support from the government and industry stakeholders."

She also urges approval of federal legislation to gather data about COVID-19 in hard-hit communities and to study the role of social determinants of health.

A perspective piece published in May in the AHA's journal Circulation on behalf of the Association of Black Cardiologists recommends more detailed COVID-19 patient data, readily available testing and diligent contact tracing. The authors also urged: expanded housing for quarantines, and suspension of evictions and foreclosures; free or discounted food delivery in low-income neighborhoods and for the elderly; aid for widespread computer and internet access to support telemedicine and distance learning; and paid sick and quarantine leave to help stem the virus's spread.

Moving forward, Benjamin calls for greater health education and science literacy efforts encouraging healthy lifestyles and prevention of chronic disease. Because COVID-19 poses an additional health stress for those whose bodies already are taxed by age or pre-existing conditions, "both management and prevention of chronic disease are what should be the priorities for all Americans, especially communities of color, now and in the future."