A life-threatening heart condition that targets Black people is the focus of a townhall meeting

MetroHealth’s Medical Director of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Dr. Charles Modlin is moderating a virtual town hall on Monday, Dec. 13 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. [Dr. Charles Modlin]
MetroHealth’s Medical Director of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Dr. Charles Modlin is moderating a virtual town hall on Monday, Dec. 13 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. [Dr. Charles Modlin]
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A Cleveland doctor is shining a spotlight on a lesser-known—but life-threatening—heart condition.

The disease, hereditary cardiac amyloidosis, also disproportionately affects the Black community, said Dr. Charles Modlin, MetroHealth’s medical director of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity .  

It’s hereditary and almost exclusively affects Black people, especially those with Caribbean descent, Dr. Modlin said.

He will moderate a virtual town hall discussion about the condition on Monday, Dec. 13 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

The name of the disease is long but Modlin doesn’t expect people to memorize it.

“They may not remember this whole long name, hereditary cardiac amyloidosis, but they can remember they heard about a disease state that causes heart failure and other symptoms: leg swelling, arm swelling, wrist swelling, shortness of breath,” he said.

It’s not known how many people are affected by the disease because it’s often misdiagnosed as other health issues. It’s hereditary and almost exclusively affects Black people, especially those with Caribbean descent, Modlin said.

“It’s estimated that up to 3 percent of all African Americans in the nation actually have this genetic defect,” he said. “Having the genetic defect does not mean the individual will necessarily manifest this disease, but it’s something we need to know about.”

The disease is treatable if caught early enough, Modlin said, which is why he wants to raise awareness of it. Symptoms usually begin to show up when people reach 50-60 years old. 

As a Black surgeon and physician, Modlin said it’s important for him to shine a light on health disparities.

Heart specialist Dr. Bryan Smith of the University of Chicago Medical Center will lead a presentation during the town hall. You can register for the event here to receive information on how to join the Zoom call.

The event is sponsored by Pfizer.

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