For Immediate Release
February 12, 2009
Contact Information

Dan Miller
(714) 226-3726

( BPRW) UnitedHealthcare and American Stroke Association Encourage African Americans to Shape Their Families Health History

--Shape Your Family History Tree enables individuals to track their health history and learn how to reduce the risk of stroke-- --African Americans have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke compared with non-Hispanic Whites--

( BLACK PR WIRE)( February 12, 2009) MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- UnitedHealthcare and the American Stroke Association are encouraging African Americans to reduce their risk of stroke by tracing their family health history with the Shape Your Family History Tree. 

The Shape Your Family History Tree, developed by the American Stroke Association, is an interactive, easy-to-use online tool that enables people to document and track their family’s health history including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and others. It is well established that when people know their risk factors, they are more likely to work with their physician to better manage their condition. Available at and, the Shape Your Family History Tree encourages individuals to print the form and share it with their doctors and families to learn how to reduce their and their families risk of suffering a stroke. 

We developed this tool because we are very aware of the great number of African Americans who die or are debilitated from stroke. Each year, 100,000 African Americans die from stroke, a rate that is nearly two-times higher than Caucasians, said Rani Whitfield, M.D., board certified family practitioner and American Stroke Association volunteer. We simply must provide every mechanism possible to ensure people understand the devastating effects of these statistics. 

African Americans have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke compared with non-Hispanic whites, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The age-adjusted stroke incidence rates at ages 45-84 are 6.6 per 1,000 in black males (vs. 3.6 in white males) and 4.9 in black females (vs. 2.3 in white females). 

The real tragedy is that so many strokes can be prevented if people know their risk factors and take action. We at UnitedHealthcare applaud the American Stroke Association for developing this innovative and easy-to-use tool, said Reed Tuckson, M.D., chief of medical affairs and executive vice president, UnitedHealth Group. We are excited to use our resources to publicize the tool’s availability and to disseminate it widely throughout the African American community. 

Approximately 795,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke; on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds, according to the American Stroke Association. About one of every 17 deaths is due to stroke, which is the No. 3 cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Among the risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking. Medical and disability expenses related to strokes cost the U.S. nearly $69 billion per year. 

UnitedHealthcare supports the American Stroke Association’s efforts to reach out to African Americans to help reduce the risk of stroke, said Corliss Hill, director of UnitedHealthcare’s Generations of Wellness. February is Black History Month, and with the Shape Your Family History Tree, African Americans now have the opportunity to learn more about stroke and get to the root of their families health, which ultimately helps to create a healthier future for generations to come. 

For the past three years, UnitedHealthcare’s Generations of Wellness initiative has provided Power To End Stroke campaign materials to its African American customers across the country, as well as the public, to help them take charge of their own health. More information about the American Stroke Association’s Power To End Stroke campaign is available online at More information about UnitedHealthcare’s Generations of Wellness is available at 

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare ( provides a full spectrum of consumer-oriented health benefit plans and services to individuals, public sector employers and businesses of all sizes, including more than half of the Fortune 100 companies. The company organizes access to quality, affordable health care services on behalf of more than 26 million individual consumers, contracting directly with more than 580,000 physicians and care professionals and 4,900 hospitals to offer them broad, convenient access to services nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. 

About the American Stroke Association
Created in 1997 as a division of the American Heart Association, the American Stroke Association works to improve stroke prevention, diagnosis and treatment to save lives from stroke � America’s No. 3 killer and a leading cause of serious disability. To do this, we fund scientific research, help people better understand and avoid stroke, encourage government support, guide healthcare professional, and provide information to stroke survivors and their caregivers to enhance their quality of life. To learn more, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit