Mortality Among African Americans

As expected on the basis of statistics reviewed thus far, there is increased mortality for African Americans compared to Whites. Increased mortality co-occurs with the increased prevalence of chronic conditions and disability. For example, as noted previously, the five-year survival rate for cancer is much lower for African Americans than Whites.

African Americans have excess death because of seven conditions. Excess deaths are defined as the number of deaths among minorities that would not have occurred had mortality rates for minorities equaled that of nonminorities. These conditions are (1) heart disease and stroke; (2) homicide and accidents; (3) cancer; (4) infant mortality; (5) cirrhosis; (6) diabetes; and (7) AIDS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

What is common to all of the above conditions is that they are sometimes linked to behavioral or lifestyle factors. Excess death could be reduced if behavioral changes were made. The intent in this chapter is to highlight these differences so that the discrepancies can begin to be addressed.

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