December 15, 2023

This Week

  • Top of Mind: The Holiday Season is Upon Us
  • Drugstores: Changing and Closing
  • And Black America: Black Patients Most Affected By Stroke
  • Black Patients Less Likely to Receive Alzheimer's Care, Blocking Access to New Treatments
  • Black America and the Opioid Epidemic
  • Black/African American Eye Health
  • What to Do: How Much Sleep Do You Need?
  • Elevate Your Health: Explore the New AAWP Website!

Top of Mind

It's the holiday season already and it seems like it was just 2022. I'm not trying to preach nor try to spoil the season, I just want to remind you what could happen and my approach may be somewhat different than your doctors.

First Christmas is a season, not a day. It's not how you live and what you eat on Christmas, it's the days before and the days after that matter. So here are some of my suggestions:

Eat whatever you want on Christmas day, but damp it down before and after. Don't stray too far away from your traditional meal by working hours on some dish you saw on the Food Network and don't put too much stress on the meal.

Make that first episode of exercise a walk. The emergency room is filled, the day after Christmas, with heart attacks, ruptured Achillis tendons and scrapes or bruises.

Don't go home for Christmas, if you didn't have a good time last year, as this year is likely to be more of the same. Don't invite that relative or friend of your cousins who ruined last year's functions as they will inevitably ruin this one.

These are just a few of the holiday rules I live by and over the next few weeks, I will share more. But for some real good tips on how to plan your holiday meal, listen to our podcast on Black Doctors Speak or on our podcast channels. Chef Nikk Shaw has some great tips for you!

Stay Healthy,

Dr. Mike

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Drugstores: Changing and Closing

You may not realize it, but pharmacies all across this country are closing their doors, leaving people in low-income and predominantly Black, Latino, and Indigenous neighborhoods without easy access to medications. CVS is announcing plans to close 300 stores a year and Rite Aid is also closing several locations. In fact, in Los Angeles, one-third of all Black and Latino neighborhoods are pharmacy deserts, with the nearest pharmacy being at least 15 miles away. This disparity is even more pronounced in Chicago, where only 1% of white neighborhoods face the same issue compared to 33% of Black neighborhoods on the Southside.

I think that pharmacies have always been important for Black communities. I reflected on going to the drug store, knowing who the pharmacist was because he lived in the neighborhood and went to our church. Our concept of the medical community was doctor, nurse, dentist and pharmacist. The  pharmacist was not only for dispensing drugs but a part of the community. I know that now they are different. They stock everything from candy to Tequila but, if they are too far away we lose the sense of the medical community and some people will not pick up needed medicine. It's probably too late to bring back the local “drugstore” but, we should fight to keep what we have.

And Black America: Black Patients Most Affected By Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the US has a stroke. Black Americans are disproportionately affected and 80% of strokes are preventable. Reduce the risk of stroke with these 6 steps:

  • Monitor blood pressure, sodium, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels
  • Stay active and avoid prolonged sitting.
  • Embrace the Mediterranean Diet.
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Breathe clean air and avoid pollutants.
  • Reduce stressful events if possible; one stressful life event increases stroke likelihood by 17%

Black Patients Less Likely to Receive Alzheimer's Care, Blocking Access to New Treatments

Black patients and people living in less affluent neighborhoods are less likely to visit specialty memory clinics, meaning they may not be able to access memory-preserving Alzheimer’s treatments, new research shows.

Due to a host of systemic inequalities, Black Americans often aren’t diagnosed or treated for Alzheimer’s early enough, despite being more likely to have the disease.

From increasing Alzheimer’s literacy to expanding healthcare access, experts say structural changes need to be made so all people have equal access to Alzheimer’s care.

Black American and the Opioid Epidemic

Overall, between 2018 and 2019, the opioid overdose death rate remained relatively flat in the communities studied. For both years, it was around 39 deaths per 100,000 residents. But when broken down by race, there were stark disparities.

From 2018 to 2019, the opioid death rate among Black people increased by 38%. These trends varied at the state level. Increases were highest in Kentucky and Ohio.

Opioid overdose death rates didn’t change for Black people in New York between 2018 and 2019. However, they declined by 18% for white people. This suggests that Black people did not benefit equally from prevention and treatment efforts during the years studied.

Black/African American Eye Health

From the National Eye Institute, more than 825,000 Black/African American people have Diabetic Retinopathy — and this number could be more than 1 million by 2030.

Black/African American eye health at a glance:

  • More than 825,000 Black/African American people have Diabetic Retinopathy — and this number could be more than 1 million by 2030.
  • Black/African American people are at higher risk for glaucoma at younger ages. 
  • Nearly 190,000 Black/African American people have a visual impairment

Learn more about eye diseases and conditions by clicking here.

What to Do: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The “eight-hour rule” is actually more of a medical myth. Healthy adults need to sleep at least seven hours a night on a regular basis for optimal health, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Is 4 hours of sleep enough? No, it negatively affects cognitive function, reaction time and mental vigilance, and mood. So that explains my actions.

Elevate Your Health: Explore the New AAWP Website!

The AAWP has a new website at Designed with your health in mind, all information is up to date, culturally sensitive, vetted, and transparent. In partnership with Healthwise, we have a symptom checker, interviews with the nation's top health experts on medical issues who happen to be Black. Check it out and give us feedback.

For more information, go to our website at or listen to our podcast at on any podcast platform.

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About the Editor 

Dr. Michael LeNoir is just your neighborhood doc — a world-renowned allergist, a board-certified pediatrician, recognized expert on asthma in inner cities, and the President and Founder of AAWP. Serving the Bay Area since 1977, Dr. LeNoir has dedicated his career to helping African Americans navigate a healthcare system he saw first-hand that is fundamentally build on racial biases. Read More

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