Protecting Native American Women’s Hearts During Pregnancy: Expert’s View

Heart disease is the top cause of death for U.S. adults, and the risk for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AIN) women is particularly high during pregnancy and spans generations. To reduce this risk, the American Heart Association (AHA) released its first set of scientific guidelines for cardiovascular health in AI/AN women of childbearing age. These guidelines address well-known risk factors and include trauma and mistrust passed down for centuries. Jason Deen, MD, one of the experts who wrote the guidelines, emphasizes the impact of colonization and the boarding school experiences on intergenerational trauma and unhealthy ecosystem. To address these issues, there is a need for a decolonized model of healthcare and more Native doctors, researchers, and community interventions.

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