American Heart Association Leaders Address Health Equity in New Jersey

Margaret Cammarieri, Community Impact Director at the American Heart Association, joined northern New Jersey board members Lois Greene, DHA, MBA, BSN, RN NEA-BC CPPS, Director of Patient Safety and Clinical Risk Management at University Hospital and Tracy Parris-Benjamin, LSW, FHELA, Director of Clinical Design Community Health at Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ to address heart health and the impact it has on our community.

According to the American Heart Association, in 2017 among all ages, cardiovascular disease caused the deaths of 54,780 black males and 52,528 black females.  When it comes to high blood pressure, over 8,600 African American males and over 8,300 African American females lost their lives, which is why it is so important to know your numbers and take steps to being heart healthy!

Social determinants of health are the core determining factors leading to cardiovascular disease and include the following:

  • Access to quality health care services (lack of a primary care provider, no health insurance, etc.)
  • Economic Stability (Unemployed and underemployed people lack stable housing, healthy food access, health care insurance, etc.)
  • Access to quality education (lack of high education attainment leads to lack of financial, housing and health care stability)
  • Neighborhood and built environment (Living in areas without safe housing, local food markets, parks and unsafe air and water.)
  • Social support and community context (Ranging from impact of structural racism to impact of needing positive family and community interaction.)

Addressing the drivers of health disparities is the only way to truly achieve equitable health and well-being for all. Structural racism, social determinants of health and rural health disparities are three major barriers that stand in the way of our ability to achieve health equity.

What can we do?

Support advocacy efforts targeting systems change through participation in outreach to legislators and health care providers.  Sign up here to get involved in your community!

Promote and practice adoption of healthier lifestyle behaviors among your family, friends, customers, etc. Learn some tips and tricks on how you can stay healthy for good!

Change your numbers, change your life! You have the power to lower your blood pressure.  Know your numbers and learn how to manage high blood pressure.

Wear RED on February 5th for National Wear Red Day and help spread awareness about heart disease and stroke.

For more information and tools to manage your heart health, visit!