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  • Writer's pictureThe Dayton Weekly News

Improving Cardiovascular Health in African Americans: Insights from Nurse Practitioner Cortnee Kelly

Cortnee Kelly

Cortnee Kelly is a cardiology nurse practitioner with Middletown Cardiology Associates, part of the Premier Physician Network. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate in Nursing Practice from Northern Kentucky University.

Q: What are the key cardiovascular health issues that disproportionately affect African


C. Kelly: Hypertension, diabetes, and obesity disproportionately affect African Americans,

increasing the risk of cardiovascular issues like heart attacks and stroke. Despite internet and

social media awareness efforts, older African American males, at highest risk of cardiovascular-related death, often mistrust the medical system, impeding preventive care seeking.

Furthermore, people of color often face adverse social determinants of health, such as low

socioeconomic status and inadequate health care infrastructure in their communities.


Q: How can African Americans actively participate in managing their cardiovascular health? 

C. Kelly: Taking proactive steps, such as yearly check-ups with a primary care provider or

cardiologist, consistent home blood pressure monitoring to detect hypertension, engaging in

regular exercise like daily 30-minute walks, and adopting a diet abundant in fresh fruits and

vegetables can greatly decrease the likelihood of cardiovascular disease in African Americans. Avoiding smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are also important for maintaining heart health. These primary prevention methods not only reduce health care expenses, but also enhance overall well-being.

Monitoring blood pressure at home is one of the best early ways to detect hypertension, which is a condition that significantly increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks. I advise all my patients, especially those in high-risk groups like African Americans, to have their own blood

pressure monitoring device and check it several times a week.

Q: How does Premier Health engage with the African American community to promote

cardiovascular health awareness?

C. Kelly: Community outreach programs, such as the Barbershop Health initiative held at

barbershops, is helping to lower hypertension rates among African Americans. Health fairs and mobile diagnostic centers providing screenings like mammograms and biometric tests enhance health awareness. Cultural competence and sensitivity are vital aspects we continue to uphold

in these initiatives.

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