Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC, a U.S.-based specialty pharmaceutical company, today announced the launch of the Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure campaign, a national educational initiative designed to raise awareness around the heart failure disparity in the African American community and ways to manage this condition.
Though he does not have heart failure himself, Shaquille O'Neal (Shaq), recognized around the world as a Basketball Hall of Famer, is partnering with Arbor Pharmaceuticals to help spread the word that every African American needs to take this disease seriously.
Heart failure is a chronic and progressive condition where the heart weakens, causing the heart to pump less efficiently. Over time, the heart can no longer keep up with what the body needs. Studies have shown that African Americans are 20 times more likely than other ethnic groups to develop heart failure before the age of 50, and they are more likely to be hospitalized or die from heart failure than white Americans.
“Even though I don’t suffer from heart failure, when I found out about this disparity, I knew I had to get involved and help educate my community about the burden of heart failure for African Americans,” said Shaquille O’Neal, Basketball Hall of Famer, former professional basketball player and sports analyst. “I’ve learned that there are not only specific risk factors in African Americans but also treatment options that offer them specific benefits. I’m partnering with Arbor to motivate African Americans living with heart failure to talk to their doctor and ensure they’re doing everything they can to take care of their health.”
The Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure campaign includes a website, www.ShaqGetsReal.com, created to provide answers to African American heart failure patients and healthcare providers, an educational video series featuring Shaquille O’Neal and details about the Shaq BiDil Access Program. The Shaq BiDil Access Program brings together a set of savings options that ensures reasonable access to the treatment, BiDil (isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine hydrochloride), the first heart failure medication indicated for self-identified African American patients with heart failure. BiDil is a vasodilator that boosts the supply of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes vasodilation, which widens and relaxes blood vessels in the body.
Studies have shown that African Americans may be more likely to have problems with their blood vessels being able to relax, which can narrow the blood vessels and make it harder for blood to get through. This may be due to a reduced responsiveness in African Americans to nitric oxide and lower amounts of nitric oxide produced by the body.
In the landmark African American Heart Failure Trial (A-HeFT), BiDil was found to reduce the risk of dying by 43 percent and reduce the risk of first hospitalization for heart failure by 39 percent in African American patients with class III or class IV heart failure when added to current standard therapies.
“Arbor is committed to identifying solutions to unique health challenges facing a number of different patient populations,” said Ed Shutter, President and CEO of Arbor Pharmaceuticals. “We are embarking on this campaign to support our ongoing efforts to improve the lives of African American patients suffering from heart failure and are thrilled to partner with Shaquille, as he shares our passion for helping others and educating the community on ways to better manage their health.”
Disease disparities between people of different ethnicities continues to gather interest and support from the medical community. For example, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recently published guidelines on cardiovascular risk factors, encouraging healthcare providers to consider ethnicity when determining risks and treatment options.
“In the A-HeFT trial, adding BiDil to current therapies made a significant difference in the lives of African Americans with heart failure7,” said Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH, FACC, first female president of the Association of Black Cardiologists and Professor of Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine. “I am proud to work with Shaquille O’Neal and Arbor Pharmaceuticals to encourage healthcare providers to consider the benefits of BiDil when evaluating treatment plans for their African American patients with heart failure.”
For more information about Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure, visit www.ShaqGetsReal.com.