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COVID-19 reminds us of the need to focus on health equity

While the top health focus today is on the COVID-19 pandemic, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for all Americans. Cardiovascular disease and its risk factors (high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity) disproportionately affect communities of color, rural populations, and other underserved groups. For example, Black Americans experience a 30% highercardiovascular disease mortality rate than non-Hispanic white Americans, and the prevalence of obesity is highest among Black and Hispanic adults in the U.S. Rural communities experience higher rates of risk factors such as inadequate physical activity, tobacco use, obesity, and hypertension, which are associated with poor cardiovascular outcomes.

COVID-19 and its disproportionate consequences have exposed economic and health equity gaps and have surfaced the need for a national dialogue and a commitment to fundamentally reform the health system to equitably benefit all underrepresented and underserved communities.

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