news image

May 01, 2015

By Gary A. Puckrein, PhD

May 2015

Thousands of African Americans with Heart Disease Die Needlessly Every Year Due to the Nation’s Failure to Treat to the Acknowledged Standard of Care

The Bio Diverse Cardiovascular Disease Alliance is launching a Heart Failure Quality Improvement Initiative to drive greater public awareness and issue a stakeholder call to action to address the drastic underutilization of scientifically proven treatments for African Americans with Heart Failure (HF). The Bio Diverse Cardiovascular Disease Alliance (the Alliance) is a data-driven collaboration coordinated through the National Minority Quality Forum that focuses on bio diverse patients whose voices tend to be undercounted by policy makers. This Alliance and its inaugural Heart Failure Quality Improvement Initiative were announced recently at the 2015 National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) Leadership Summit on Health Disparities and CBC Health Braintrust in Washington, DC.

The Initiative was announced by NMQF President and CEO Gary A. Puckrein, PhD at the Summit’s session on “Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure and Hypertension in African Americans.” The Initiative aims to secure the engagement of public and private sector stakeholders, including providers, payers and patients, in a national discussion aimed at improving the current level of care for African Americans diagnosed with Heart Disease.

“Thousands of African Americans are dying needlessly of heart disease every year,” stated Puckrein, “Given the ready availability of proven treatment this is a little known national tragedy that is largely preventable.”

“The Bio Diverse Cardiovascular Disease Alliance is calling for a public/private national quality improvement initiative to focus on ensuring that African Americans with HF receive standard of care for the treatment of the disease,” continued Puckrein. “We are asking managers of government programs, commercial health plans, doctors and patients to join our effort to encourage standard of care treatment for African Americans suffering with heart failure.”


The Heart Failure Quality Improvement Initiative

Published studies estimate that there are over 550,000 African Americans living with HF, of whom over 150,000 should be prescribed care that has been proven to reduce mortality in blacks by 43% and first-time hospitalizations for HF by 38%. Astonishingly, only 7% (or 11,000) of African Americans who are clinically eligible for the therapy are receiving it. As a consequence, it is estimated that 6,655 blacks die prematurely every year because they are not receiving or adhering to standard of care.[1]

Through the Heart Failure Quality Improvement Initiative, the Alliance seeks to engage national decision makers who might otherwise have a tendency to norm policy and programs to a theoretical “typical” patient. The primary mission of the Heart Failure Quality Improvement Initiative (the Initiative) is to advocate for diverse patient groups to ensure that they are receiving standard of care for HF as recommended by clinical guidelines.

The Heart Failure Quality Improvement Initiative, the inaugural initiative of the Alliance, will employ the following strategies to accomplish this objective:

  • Support and review clinical and performance guidelines to ensure that they comport with best scientific evidence for the care and management of all patients with heart failure;

  • Increase awareness and adoption of established clinical guidelines among providers who are treating patients with heart failure;

  • Eliminate health system barriers that hinder the provision of appropriate therapies for heart failure; and

  • Promote a multi-disciplinary approach to managing chronic heart failure in African-Americans.

For additional information about the Bio Diverse Cardiovascular Disease Alliance or the Heart Failure Quality Improvement Initiative, please contact:

Gretchen C. Wartman

Vice President for Policy and Program

National Minority Quality Forum

202-223-7560 or


[1] Gregg C. Fonarow, Clyde W. Yancy, Adrian F. Hernandez, Eric D. Peterson, John A. Spertus, and Paul A. Heidenreich, “Potential impact of optimal implementation of evidence-based heart failure therapies on mortality”, American Heart Journal, June 2011, Volume 161, Number 6, pp. 1025-1026.

About The Forum

The National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, non-partisan, independent research and education organization. The vision of NMQF is a health services research, delivery and financing system that provides quality and effective health services to the biodiverse American general population of the 21st century. NMQF helps assure that national and local quality improvement initiatives are informed by scientific evidence, and place a priority on the quality of care and patient outcomes in all populations.