Herman Taylor, Jr, MD, MPH, on the Jackson Heart Study Key Takeaways: Making the Right Diagnosis at the Right Time

In this video, Herman Taylor, Jr, MD, MPH, explains how the findings from the Jackson Heart Study question the specifics of making the right diagnosis at the right time among African Americans. The topic was a main takeaway from his keynote address during the American Society for Preventive Cardiology’s Virtual Summit on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention.

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Herman Alfred Taylor, Jr, MD, MPH, is a professor of medicine and the director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine. Previously, he led the Jackson Heart Study.



Hello, everyone. This is Herman Taylor. I’m a cardiologist at the Morehouse School of Medicine where I direct the Cardiovascular Research Institute. Prior to taking that role, however, I had the great pleasure of a career of running the Jackson Heart Study.

Another interesting finding in the Jackson Heart Study points to some of the questions of specifics of making the right diagnosis at the right time for African Americans. We’ll take the simple case of sickle trait.

As you know, the sickle trait is the heterozygous form of the sickle hemoglobin. If you have the sickle trait, you are in a group of about 8% to 10% of African Americans. It’s not an inconsequential fraction of the African American population.

That significant fraction is at risk for the underdiagnosis of pre‑diabetes and diabetes if we use hemoglobin A1C as the test to make the diagnosis. Those individuals who have sickle trait should get either fasting blood sugars done or the glucose tolerance test done to determine whether or not they truly have diabetes, because they can look normal with hemoglobin A1C testing alone.

That points to some of the differences that are perhaps peculiar to the African American population. I would hasten to remind you however that sickle trait is not confined to people who trace their continental origins, their ancestry to Western Africa but also some parts of the Mediterranean and the Middle East have not insignificant the level of sickle hemoglobin abnormalities.

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