By: Michael A. Graham
Dr. Richard Allen Williams, is currently a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine, President/CEO of the Minority Health Institute, Inc. in Los Angeles, California and the President of the National Medical Association. Dr. Williams list of accolades and accomplishments throughout his long and storied career in medicine are impressive and honorable. He has spent his career in “Matters of the Heart.” As a world renowned cardiologist, Dr. Williams founded the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) in 1974 and served as its president for 10 years. He also became the first chairman of the Board of Directors and started the ABC Newsletter. The ABC established the endowed “Dr. Richard Allen Williams Scholarship for Black Medical Students” in his honor in 1980.
Dr. Williams says that “the heart is the most important organ in the body because it keeps blood circulating to all other organs. Heart health in the Black community is critical because poor heart health leads to hypertension or high blood pressure, the reason that’s important is because high blood pressure can lead to a number of problems affecting other organs.” The results of which can cause stokes, heart attacks, kidney failure and even blindness. The statics are alarming in the differential between Blacks, as opposed, to Whites. The Black community has a 300% higher mortality or death rate than do Whites. One of the major contributing factors for high blood pressure is due to high stress in many areas of the Black community. “The social economics determinisms of health is the prime reason for this level of stress,” according to Dr. Williams. Even environmental aspects impact upon Black people in way that do not impact upon White and other ethnic populations. Interestingly enough, if you look at perimeters such as high blood pressure in the Hispanic or Latino community, though they are in similar circumstances as the Black community, their outcomes aren’t anywhere close to what you find in the Black community. The medical community calls it the “Hispanic Paradox.” “They have all the risk factors, as we do, that cause high blood pressure but they don’t have the same terrible outcomes as we do that ravishes our communities, such as high incidents of strokes and heart attacks, in fact, nobody in this country has that kind of outcome.” Black people are the most beset upon part of the population in regards to terrible diseases and if you take a look at heart disease and other diseases, “Blacks suffer more from cancer, lung disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer and just about any other disease you can name with a higher mortality rate that do Whites. These are things that we need to look at, in regards to racial and ethnic perspectives or what we now call healthcare disparities.”
Dr. Williams, in quoting Marcus Gravey, implores Black people to “Rise Up You Mighty Nation” and take control of your own health fortunes, destinies, communities, livelihoods and lives.