UAB News, by Hannah Echols, July 12, 2022
More than one in four pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are tied to poor heart health, especially among people of color, putting both parents-to-be and their babies at risk, according to the American Heart Association Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2022 Update. To address this issue, the American Heart Association is funding a new $20 million initiative composed of a network of special projects focused on advancing the understanding of the factors underlying the disproportionate impact of pregnancy complications and deaths among Black and Native American pregnant people and those living in rural areas.
Scientists from University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine will help lead community engagement programs as a part of the American Heart Association’s Health Equity Research Network (HERN) on Disparities in Maternal-Infant Health Outcomes. The programs are part of the multi-pronged approach of the American Heart Association’s unprecedented pledge to aggressively address social determinants of health, while working to improve health equity for all communities.
“Social determinants of health contribute to approximately 80 percent of all cardiovascular risk, and structural racism in the health care system specifically impacts how people of color are treated across the spectrum of pre-conception, pregnancy and postpartum care,” said Michelle A. Albert, M.D., 2022-23 volunteer president of the American Heart Association. “Geographic disparities also exist among people living in rural communities who experience higher pregnancy-related mortality rates than people living in urban communities. We are excited to launch this new research initiative to support the fast-track advancement of science to improve pregnancy-related and infant health through improved health equity.”