Your zip code can go a long way toward determining your life expectancy. In some cases, where someone lives can cost them upwards of two decades of their life.
While cardiovascular health research is the cornerstone of the American Heart Association’s work, more affordable housing, fair wages, strong school systems, safe streets and access to healthy foods must be made available to help the millions of Americans who are burdened by their environment.
This is the fourth in a series of stories WBZ aired in August highlighting the work of the American Heart Association in Boston. It is part of WBZ Cares, a monthly feature written and reported by Shari Small focusing on non-profit organizations in our city.
“There are some systems that are built into the city that affect whether a person has an equal chance of health or not, so we’re really trying to work with community leaders to say, ‘What can I do to remove barriers for people? How do we make it just so that everyone has a fair chance?’” said Jay Blackwell, the American Heart Association’s executive director in Boston.
Small also interview Benjamin Perkins, the American Heart Association’s executive director of health equity strategies for Boston, who works with local communities and the state to identify and improve some of the social and environmental issues that have been proven to impact health. Perkins said the Association is focusing much of its attention on the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester and East Boston, which have health outcomes much worse than the rest of the city.
“The fact that you can go two, two and a half miles and see life expectancy decrease by 30 plus years is pretty astonishing and troubling,” he said.