CVS fights disease in ethnic communities

CVS/pharmacy spent the last couple of months sponsoring nearly 300 free screening and consultation events in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia targeting African-American communities. 


Part of the chain’s To Your Health program, the events were an extension of the A Su Salud events targeting Hispanic customers in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and Miami. To Your Health started in Atlanta on April 17, moving on to Washington, D.C., on June 12 and Philadelphia on June 19.


The events were designed to target health issues prevalent in the ethnic population in those communities; for example, the rate of diabetes among African-Americans is 11.8%, compared with 6.6% of non-Hispanic whites, according to the American Diabetes Association. Among 195,000 patients screened during the A Su Salud events in 2009, 22% had diabetes, 28% had high blood pressure, 33% had high cholesterol and 36% were at high to moderate risk of osteoporosis.


“Chronic diseases like diabetes disproportionately affect the African-American population, and early detection can make a tremendous difference for a disease that must be managed for a lifetime,” CVS Caremark chief medical officer Troyen Brennan said. “We urge patients to find out if their blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol are within a healthy range.”


Nearly 26 million Americans are living with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, one of the focus cities of the To Your Health campaign, is in what the CDC calls the “diabetes belt,” an area covering 644 counties in 15 mostly Southern states where diabetes prevalence rates are at least 11%. The area has a large African-American population, a group with a disproportionate risk of developing diabetes. Within the belt, 11.7% of people have diabetes, compared with 8.5% of people in the country as a whole.


African-Americans also are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, than other groups. According to the CDC, 42.2% of African-American men and 44.1% of African-American women have the condition, compared with 31.2% of Caucasian men and 28.3% of Caucasian women, and 24.8% of Mexican-American men and 28.6% of Mexican-American women. Across ethnic groups, 31.8% of men and 30.3% of women have hypertension.