The Prevalence and Biohistory of Congestive Heart Failure in the Cobb Collection

Kayla Bedeau 1,2

  1. W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory, Howard University
  2. Department of Health, Human Performance and Leisure Studies, Howard University
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a common cause of death, affecting over 5 million people in the United States in 2013. CHF occurs when the muscle of the heart weakens, failing to provide oxygenated blood throughout the body. In the later stages, blood will pool inside of the heart, leading to complete failure. Among others, hypertension is a major risk factor for CHF. Commonly known as high blood pressure, hypertension is indicated when the systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure are above 140 mmHg and 90 mmHg respectively. Hypertension continues to be a major health risk, especially in the African American (AA) community where over 40 percent of AA’s are affected. Because of this prevalence, the Cobb Collection (CC) is an invaluable source, being the largest collection of AA archeological material in the country. We have identified 36 individuals from the CC who have died from Congestive Heart Failure in order to analyze their medical history and lifestyles. Then, a comparison of incidents and treatments between the 1900s and modernity will create a better understanding of the impact that hypertension has on congestive heart failure, while also contributing to the sparse amount of scientific literature on the AA community.

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