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New Test That Detects Heart Disease Especially Important for Black Women

black woman doctor visitA new diagnostic test can show the risk for a person having a heart attack or stroke in the future, even if they currently do not have high cholesterol levels in the blood.

The test measures inflammation caused by buildup of plaque and cholesterol in the arterial walls. This buildup predisposes a person to cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.

For African-American women, who are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and its complications, this could be a significant breakthrough in preventive medicine.

Doctors have been able to custom order the test, but now a commercial version will make it easier to get and improve access for many Black women who should be tested.

“A cardiac test that helps better predict future coronary heart disease risk in women, and especially black women, may help health care professionals identify these patients before they experience a serious CHD event, like a heart attack,” said¬†U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Alberto Gutierrezin in a news release.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, and stroke disproportionately affects African-Americans, according to the American Heart Association. However, African-American women are less likely than Caucasian women to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death.

Here are some more facts about heart disease and Black Women:

  • Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American women annually.
  • Of African-American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart diseases.
  • Only 1 in 5 African-American women believes she is personally at risk.
  • Only 52 percent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
  • Only 36 percent of African-American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the new diagnostic test on Monday.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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