Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan has teamed up with Emory Healthcare, the official team healthcare provider of the Atlanta Falcons, to help tackle heart disease in Black and Brown communities who have higher rates of heart disease and death compared to White communities.
Ryan and the Falcons have created the "Healthy ATL" campaign to fund research and innovation at Emory Healthcare to address health disparities and important health challenges in vulnerable communities.
The launch of Healthy ATL coincides with February's American Heart Month. Donations will be directed toward research and innovation for heart disease that disproportionately affects some underrepresented communities.
"There are certain groups of people not only in our city and state, but in our country, who have much higher rates of heart disease – namely Black and Brown Americans," says Alanna Morris, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine and director of heart failure research at Emory Heart & Vascular Center. "We're trying to understand and address the different reasons why Black and Brown Americans have higher rates of heart disease, such as socioeconomic differences and even how the community where someone lives impacts health."
Cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and stroke, disproportionately affects people of color. Black and Brown Americans experience a 30 percent higher fatality rate from heart disease, and a 45 percent higher fatality rate from stroke compared with non-Hispanic White Americans, according to Morris. Although heart disease is often thought of as a "man's disease," Morris says, black women are at a higher risk of hypertension and heart disease.
To kick off the campaign, Matt Ryan and the Falcons will match up to $300,000 donated to Healthy ATL in the effort to help fight heart disease and close the health disparity gap in the community.
"To try to make our state and our city a healthier place for all of our citizens makes sense to me," Ryan says. "I'm thankful for Emory Healthcare and the Falcons for launching this initiative and I think we can make this into something great."
For more information and to make a donation, visit HealthyATL.org. Fans who give at a certain level can receive Falcons merchandise, signed memorabilia, and exclusive experiences.