A big man with a big heart… Shaquille O’Neal recently spoke at a medical conference of heart specialists in Philly. O’Neal was one of the keynote speakers at the 23rd annual Scientific Meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA).
HFSA is a group of professional clinicians, researchers, and also patients… all focused on reducing cases of heart failure, which is different that the more commonly-know heart attack. Heart failure is defined in medicine as a progressive condition in which the heart’s muscle gradually loses its ability to pump enough blood throughout the body. There are several causes for the condition, but in all cases, it leads to fluid retention and / or congestion… definitely not healthy ways to live.
Shaq spoke to one of the main sessions of the group earlier this month. A press release from the group quoted HFSA President Dr. Randall Starling: “We’re honored to have Shaquille O’Neal join us in our mission to reduce the burden of heart failure and bring awareness of the condition to diverse populations. Shaq is a star on the court and in the broadcast studio, and he is using that star to shine a light on this critical issue.”
Shaq has been talking about heart-health for some time. He’s had some experience, too. Both for himself and his young son. HFSA says “O’Neal brings a unique.” Recently, Shaq launched his own campaign for heart-health awareness, called Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure. It’s a program aimed more specifically at African-American populations.
In March 2019, O’Neal partnered with Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC, a U.S.-based specialty pharmaceutical company, to create a national initiative designed to raise awareness around the heart failure disparity in the African American community. Research suggests that African Americans may be up to 20 times more likely than white Americans to develop heart failure before the age of 50.1 African Americans are hospitalized for heart failure more often than whites.
Shaq: “Since the African American community faces a higher risk of HF, I feel like it is my mission to try to help my community better understand and manage the conditions.”
Earlier this year, Shaq did an interview on heart health and diverse populations with USA Today. In talking with a heart doctor at the time, the big man realized he’s not immune from having to take good care of himself. “I’ve been calling myself ‘Superman’ since I was 17 years old,” said O’Neal. “I don’t have a family physician, never had a doctor. The only time I went to a doctor was when I had an injury, so I probably have to get one of those very soon.”
This latest HFSA meeting drew about 3,000 physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, scientists, and health care professionals who specialize or have an interest in heart failure. For more information about the HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting, visit meeting.hfsa.org. For more information about Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure, visit www.ShaqGetsReal.com.