Heart Health: Closing the Gap

About 40,000 people in Texas die every year from heart disease. It’s the leading cause of death in this country, and it disproportionately affects Latinos and African Americans. As Laurie Johnson reports, one Houston doctor has joined a campaign to close the gap in heart health disparity.

Dr. Baxter Montgomery says the facts about heart disease aren’t new. But the response to the problem is taking a slight shift. Instead of relying on heart specialists to treat patients, the Close the Gap campaign seeks to get the entire community involved.

“We’ve done lectures at small groups, such as Curves, we’ve done lectures on the JAM Institute campus where we have screenings and educational talks to individuals of the community. And so we’ll target individuals in different communities and we’ve also initiated efforts to work with some faith-based organizations to do screenings where we’ll do echocardiograms and EKGs and measure blood pressure.”

Close the Gap is an educational initiative of Boston Scientific. Houston is one of the main research sites for the campaign.

“Historically we’ve always thought the disparities were primarily due to socioeconomic status differences between groups such as African-Americans and Latinos. If you were to control for those differences you would still be left with significant disparities of therapy so it’s a much more problem than just socioeconomic status.”

Montgomery says Houston is a place where the opportunities are ripe to study the issues because there are so many minority groups represented along with some of the best medical resources in the world.

Laurie Johnson, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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