Bio-Historical Analysis of Cardiovascular Disease in the Cobb Collection

Jameshisa Alexander 1,2

  1. 1W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory, Howard University
  2. Department of Biology, Howard University

Cardiovascular disease, commonly known as heart disease, consists of multiple complications involving the cardiovascular system. People with medical conditions like diabetes and obesity and live lifestyles with, poor diet, lack of exercise and high alcohol consumption are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The greatest risk factors for cardiovascular disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. The incidence and prevalence of CVD is directly related to the incidence and prevalence of CVD risk factors. There has been an increasing prevalence of obesity from 15 to 30 percent between 1960 and 2000 and in diabetes rising from 1.8 to 5.0 percent. However, some major risk factors like high cholesterol, hypertension and smoking have decreased. The prevalence statistics show that high cholesterol has decreased from 34 to 17 percent, hypertension from 31 to 15 percent, and smoking from 39 to 26 percent. Even though the prevalence of some major risk factors have increased, the prevalence of CVD has decreased. About 610,000 deaths occur in the United States every year is caused by cardiovascular disease (CVD), making it the leading cause of death for both men and women. Cardiovascular disease is divided into four main categories: heart valve complications (regurgitation and stenosis), arrhythmia, heart attack and stroke. Atherosclerosis is the building of plaque in arteries commonly leading to heart attacks or strokes. Physicians diagnose patients with these ailments based on risk factors identified from medical history, physical exam and a variety of specific tests. These conditions are treated with medications, institution of medical devices such as pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVAD), procedures like heart value replacements/repairs, heart transplants, and surgery. In the Cobb Collection (CC), we have multiple cases of cardiovascular disease such as congestive heart failure, atherosclerotic heart disease, value issues and hypertrophy. Using the data collected on the individuals in the CC, we can compare the trends and of cardiovascular disease previously and presently. This allows us to examine this chronic disease from a unique historical perspective.

Cobb Lab