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 EMMAUS, Pa., Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- While new studies released earlier this week reveal that blacks are three times more likely than whites to die from sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital, and are less likely to undergo preventive, invasive surgical procedures than whites, the results of these studies also point to a positive trend for health care research in the black community, said cardiologist Dr. Edward S. Cooper, a leading black health expert.
 "I'm very pleased to see research being done in the medical profession which focuses on the discrepancies in health services for blacks and whites," said Cooper, former president of the American Heart Association, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and advisor to Rodale's Heart & Soul magazine. "This is the first time we've seen strong, hard data proving there are differences between what happens to blacks and whites when they visit their doctors or are sent to the hospital."
 Referring to one study at the University of Chicago concerning cardiac arrest, Cooper said that while differences in death rates are often attributed to socioeconomic factors, the reasons are far more complex and multifaceted.
 Cooper said he feels the Veterans Administration study indicates there is an unfortunate lack of communication and trust between white physicians and black patients. "African American patients need to be convinced that a serious treatment like cardiac catheterization or angioplasty is needed," he noted. "The primary physician, particularly if he or she is white, has to be able to connect with the patient on a personal level."
 Cooper stated there is a need for more minorities in the health care field, representation in the medical profession would mean increased research on Black health issues, better communication between a doctor and patient, and a larger understanding of black customs in health care situations.
 The upcoming health care reform package should bring increased health education within the black community, stated Cooper. In addition, he points to an increased need for "education within the medical community," on the differences in treating black and white patients as an important step toward reducing the disparity in death rates and medical care between blacks and whites.
 Cooper also believes that one of the keys for lowering the risk of heart attacks among blacks is prevention.
 "The most important preventive health measures blacks can take to reduce their risk of a cardiac-related death is to learn to identify the warning signs of a heart attack and know how to handle them," he added.
 "If an ambulance is called when the symptoms appear, medical professionals have 60 minutes to treat the heart muscle before it is seriously damaged," said Cooper. "But if symptoms are ignored until the heart actually stops, the victim has only four minutes to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), before irreversible brain damage begins."
 The first step to reducing the risk of a heart attack is knowing your family history. If you are at risk, you and those around you should know to call 911 or get to the emergency room if any of the following warning signs persist:
 -- Heavy chest pains that feel as if someone is stepping on you, sometimes radiating into the arms or jaw.
 -- Profuse sweating.
 -- Dizziness and weakness.
 -- A dark, overwhelming feeling of impending doom and confusion.
 Learning CPR and making lifestyle changes which help reduce the risk of heart disease are equally as important. If you are at risk, you should follow these guidelines to reduce your chances of having a heart attack:
 -- Quit smoking.
 -- Exercise regularly.
 -- Keep high cholesterol level below 200.
 -- Regulate high blood pressure below 140/90.
 -- Maintain normal weight by limiting salt and animal fat intake.
 Rodale's Heart & Soul magazine is a new publication of the Rodale Press Special's Division. Rodale Press, Inc. is the nation's leading health and fitness publisher with titles like Prevention, Men's Health, Runner's World and Scuba Diving. Heart & Soul, the new healthy lifestyle guide for African Americans, hit newsstands in June 1993, with a circulation of 250,000.
 -0- 8/27/93
 /CONTACT: Liz Reap of Rodale Press, 215-967-8917/

CO: Rodale Press ST: Pennsylvania IN: PUB SU:

MP-JM -- PH026 -- 6746 08/27/93 16:23 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 27, 1993

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