Georgia Groups Making Free Cardiovascular Resources Available for Those in Need

MSM’s Dr. Melvin Echols said a health fair was meant to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in Georgia.

Dr. Melvin Echols Dr. Melvin Echols

Cardiologist & MSM Associate Professor of Medicine

By Sawyer Buccy, Atlanta News First

ATLANTA — You might hear the stats: cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among Georgians.

In 2019, African Americans were 30% more likely to die from heart disease than Caucasians. But many of the people at Tuesday’s free Atlanta Heart Health Fair can tell you the stories that are fueling their need to get answers, to get resources or to simply get checkups.

“My mom had a massive heart attack in her sleep at age 69 and I am 68. So when I got my blood work back, I was like, ‘Oh my god. We gotta do something,’” said Nelscine Ellis.

Others are working through health issues.

“I actually have peripheral artery disease, so I get these tests done on a regular basis,” said Robert Castleberry with the nonprofit The Way To My Heart.

Other are trying to get ahead of any issues that might pop up and start preventative care.

“In the African American community, there are a lot of diseases and health issues that are prone to our demographic. So I just want to get ahead of the curb,” said Keon Hardy, a 23-year-old who attended Tuesday’s event.

The health fair was put on by the American College of Cardiology and its partners. There were over 40 organizations, all of which provided free resources to people in the community.

“This mobile unit goes around the country screening in communities that are at risk, like Atlanta,” said Dr. Richard Browne, senior medical executive at Johnson & Johnson.

The event was created to empower people, to help them understand that taking charge of their heart health is possible and local organizations can help.

“One of the goals here is that we are increasing awareness of the issues that people are facing in terms of cardiac risk and cardiac disease,” said Dr. Melvin Ray Echols, cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine.

The event focused on peripheral artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol, all of which doctors said often disproportionately impact Black and Hispanic communities.

To learn more about heart disease in Georgia, click here.

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