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The Importance of CPR in Saving Lives



Monday night football on Jan. 2 came to a halt when Buffalo Bill player Damar Hamlin fell to the field, suffering cardiac arrest. A quick-thinking athletic trainer, Denny Kellington, jumped into action and immediately started doing chest compressions to save the 24-year-old’s life. 

In an unprecedented NFL move, the game was postponed and later canceled altogether, and Hamlin was transported to an intensive care unit. Now with the news of him heading home soon to recover, the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) would like to remind people of the importance of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR to save a person’s life. ABC added Hamlin is unusually fortunate to have benefited from prompt and appropriate action from highly skilled medical personnel, which is not typically the case when a similar incident occurs in a lower-profile setting. 

With a half-million cardiac arrests each year, CPR can help save a life if a person’s breathing or heart stops. This training is not just for healthcare workers and emergency responders. In fact, CPR can double or triple the chance of survival when bystanders take action. CPR combines chest compressions with rescue breathing, restoring regular breathing and a heartbeat to an individual suffering from cardiac arrest. It keeps blood pumping through the body to vital organs until medical help arrives on the scene. 

The Association of Black Cardiologists strongly endorses exercise as a key pillar to living long and healthy lives; however, there are dangers, particularly in competitive contact sports. Fortunately, such events are rare and range in incidents from 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 80,000, depending on factors such as the type of sport and the athlete’s age.

While not official yet, it’s reported that Hamlin most likely suffered from a special cardiac arrest brought upon by blunt trauma to the chest, known medically as commotio cordis. The energy transferred from a focal, high-velocity impact to the chest wall by an object such as a baseball, hockey puck, football helmet, or even a fist or foot can, when occurring at a precise moment during the heartbeat [called the vulnerable period], lead to ventricular fibrillation – a chaotic, disorganized cardiac rhythm that results in cessation of effective pump function and loss of pulse. This rhythm leads to sudden cardiac death unless immediately reversed, typically as in this case, by application of an electric shock from a defibrillator.  

The Association of Black Cardiologists said while commotio cordis is a strong consideration for the cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, many other underlying conditions must be assessed in sports-related cardiac arrest, including heart diseases.

Locally, AugustHeart provides free Heart Screening for teens ages 13 to 18 on Jan. 21 from 7 am to 9 am at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital – Alamo Heights. AugustHeart’s mission is to provide free heart screening for teenagers to identify selected heart abnormalities to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death. For more information, email or call 210-267-2771. Additionally, the American Red Cross provides a variety of local online and hybrid CPR training for a cost. New parents can often get free CPR training in the community as part of childbirth classes. 

Black Life Texas

Increase Your Health Literacy IQ at Free Health Fair




It is estimated that only 14 percent of the U.S. population has proficient health literacy, and the Black and Latino populations typically score lower in health literacy compared to other races. 

To improve health outcomes, The Department of Health and Human Services hopes that observing National Minority Health Month in April will highlight the importance of improving health and reducing health disparities among people of color. Health disparities are the imbalance in the quality of health and health care experienced by groups based on their environmental condition and social, racial, ethnic, and economic status. 

One way to improve your health literacy is to attend a health fair honoring National Minority Health Month, sponsored by the San Antonio Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, on Saturday, April 8, from 9 am to noon at Second Baptist Church at 3310 E. Commerce Street. 

The fair includes panel discussions on mental health, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, prostate cancer, and more. Bring the family to enjoy door prizes, an easter egg hunt, easter baskets, and other free giveaways. 

The origin of National Minority Health Month was the 1915 establishment of National Negro Health Week by Booker T. Washington. In 2002, National Minority Health Month received support from the U.S. Congress with a concurrent resolution that “a National Minority Health and Health Disparities Month should be established to promote educational efforts on the health problems currently facing minorities and other health disparity populations.” 

The resolution encouraged “all health organizations and Americans to conduct appropriate programs and activities to promote healthfulness in minority and other health disparity communities.”

To register for the free health fair, visit this link.

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Black Life Texas

Our Quest for Health Equity Lecture by Dr. Wayne Riley




Medical educator and national leader in academic medicine Dr. Wayne Riley will be the keynote speaker for the 20th Anniversary Frank Bryant Jr. MD, Memorial Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 6, from 12 pm to 1 pm at Holly Auditorium. 

In June of 2021 – alongside Drs. Anthony Fauci and Eric Topol – Dr. Riley was awarded the National Medical Humanism Medal by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for his impactful leadership during the pandemic and passionate advocacy towards addressing health disparities and anti-racism in medicine and healthcare.

A champion for healthcare equity, Dr. Riley will share his personal and professional experiences in his discussion “Our Quest for Health Equity” by focusing on prejudice in the medical field. This free, in-person event will occur at the Holly Auditorium at 7703 Floyd Curl Drive (UT Medical Center).

“Dr. Riley is truly a distinguished medical educator, a respected national leader in academic medicine, and a champion for health care equity,” said Dr. Ruth Berggren, head of the Center for Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

In 2002, the Texas Medical Foundation funded a lecture series to honor Dr. Frank Bryant Jr. He is remembered as a man who overcame adversity yet would never accuse anyone else of being unfair. Dr. Bryant graduated from UTMB in one of the first classes to admit Black students; he became a respected physician, a loving family man, and an advocate for the medically underserved in East San Antonio. Dr. Bryant was the co-founder, first medical director of the Ella Austin Health Clinic, and co-developer of the East San Antonio Medical Center. He served as the first African American President of the Bexar County Medical Society and the first President of the C.A. Whittier Medical Society.

Dr. Riley was appointed by the Board of Trustees of The State University of New York (SUNY) as the 17th President of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in 2017. Dr. Riley is an academic primary care general internist with over 25 years of progressively senior executive-level management, policy, and leadership experience. 

Before Dr. Riley’s appointment at Downstate, he served as a clinical professor of Medicine and adjunct professor of Health Policy at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and as an adjunct professor of Management at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Before his role at Vanderbilt, from 2007-2013, Dr. Riley served with distinction as the 10th president, chief executive officer, and professor of Medicine at Meharry Medical College.

Dr. Riley earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Morehouse School of Medicine, a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology with a concentration in medical anthropology from Yale University, and a Master of Public Health degree in health systems management from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He also earned a Master of Business Administration from Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. 

“I look forward to welcoming all of you to our campus to hear Dr. Riley’s address!” said  Dr. Ruth Berggren. “I hope that each of you will consider inviting members of the community, including youth, students, community leaders, and health professionals, to learn from his experiences and  to be inspired.”

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Black Life Texas

Go Red in February




#HeartMonth is just getting started! The American Heart Association is asking people to “Go Red for Women” to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and help save lives. Why? Because losing even one woman to cardiovascular disease is too many. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, killing one woman about every 80 seconds. Women who suffer from cardiac arrest outside of a hospital are less likely to receive CPR from bystanders.

National Wear Red Day was officially on Feb. 3, but the American Heart Association is hoping people wear red all month and learn the importance of CPR. The Association recently partnered with Damar Hamlin of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills for the #3forHeart CPR Challenge to encourage people to learn this life-saving practice. 

Heart disease and stroke disproportionately impact Black women. Importantly, Black women are less likely than white women to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death. Diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity, and a family history of heart disease are all greatly prevalent among Black women and are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. What’s more, Black women have almost two times the risk of stroke than white women and are more likely to die at an earlier age when compared to women of other ethnicities.

Here are a few unsettling stats:

  • Cardiovascular diseases kill more than 50,000 Black women annually. Stroke is a leading cause of death among Black women.
  • Among Black women ages 20 and older, nearly 59% have cardiovascular disease.
  • Only 39% of Black women are aware that chest pain can be a sign of a heart attack; only 33% recognize that pain spreading to the shoulder, neck, or arms is another potential heart attack sign.
  • Among Black women ages 20 years and older, nearly 58% have high blood pressure, and only around 20% of those women have their blood pressure under control.

Risk Factors That Can Be Managed:

You can control or treat these risk factors with lifestyle changes and your healthcare provider’s help:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Lack of regular activity
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Diabetes

Risk Factors You Can’t Control:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Heredity (family health history)
  • Race
  • Previous stroke or heart attack

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack:

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately.

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort.

What are the stroke warning signs?

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance o
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