Experts at Hampton U. urge risk control for heart attack, stroke

By Malik Jones

This year's Black Family Conference theme was healthcare within the African-American community. Hampton University professors and established experts in medical and pharmaceutical fields came together to inform students and the community of the different health risks plaguing blacks and minorities across the country. In the panel titled, "Risk Control for Heart Attack and Stroke," Assistant Professors David Ombengi and Hua Ling gave the audience tips on how to prevent diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, and how to take charge and responsibility for one's own health. First and foremost, what exactly is diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of medical conditions that cause dangerously high levels of blood glucose. This can result in the damage, dysfunction, and failure of major organs such as the eyes, kidneys, heart, brain, and nerves. If left untreated, diabetics could be forced to lose their extremities such as arms and legs when they lose feeling in them due to nerve damage.

Diabetics, said the presenters, are also at a much higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. Depending on the type of diabetes, a person may be deficient in insulin, which works to keep our blood sugar levels from going to high. Without this hormone, glucose levels will rise and build up in the bloodstream, creating blockage. When blood flow is disrupted, necessary oxygen cannot get to the heart or brain resulting in these major and life-threatening malfunctions.

In a 2013 study on the leading causes of death within the United States, diabetes placed seventh with over 75,000 cases in the U.S. alone. 65 percent of people with diabetes are likely to die from heart attack or stroke. This disease is especially prevalent within minority communities. Poor socioeconomic status can have more detrimental effects than what schools people go to or what jobs they have. It can also have a huge impact on their health. Less access to quality care facilities, inability to afford healthier foods, and access to medical insurance are all risk factors that can have a negative domino effect on a person's health.

However, as Ombengi explained, "Diabetes is not a death sentence; it is treatable and preventable."

Some risk factors that people can control include: blood pressure and blood sugar levels, smoking/alcohol consumption, and exercise habits. Not many life-threatening diseases can be prevented before they occur. Diabetes can be by simply staying vigilant over what people eat and how much they stay active. Having a game plan for health is important and could just save lives before it's ever a risk.

Hua Ling talked more in depth about risks surrounding the heart, specifically looking at the warning signs of Heart Disease and Stroke.

The term Atherosclerosis describes the buildup of fat deposits, or plaque, within the coronary arteries. This plaque is the result of fatty, sugary foods, which then builds up and stiffens the artery walls, making blood flow increasingly difficult. Researchers now know that plaque deposits can begin as early as 2-years-old. Once in the system, plaque cannot be removed. This realization only emphasizes the need for balanced nutrition and exercise at a young age.

Symptoms of heart disease may not be obvious for a very long time. There could be some minor chest pain similar to that of a muscle ache. However, if the pain intensifies and people do not seek treatment, this could lead to serious consequences and even sudden death.

In the 2013 study on the leading causes of death in the U.S., heart disease led the pack with roughly 611,105 cases.

Stroke came in at No. 5 with 128,978 cases. 85 percent of all strokes are Ischemic strokes. This is caused when plaque builds in an artery, the blood clots together, and oxygen is cut off from that part of the brain, similar to Atherosclerosis in the heart.

Ling highlighted tips for spotting a stroke, including: drooping facial features or an inability to smile, inability to hold arms outstretched, and slurred or difficult speech. These signs indicate that some portion of the brain is currently being affected and the normal nerve signals are being disrupted. The faster you can identify the problem and seek treatment, the less permanent damage may be done to the brain.

So now the question becomes, "What can we do to prevent all these health problems?" The answer is to reduce all the things that put bodies at risk. Monitor cholesterol levels, diet, exercise, and see a physician regularly to evaluate your progress and get more information. Americans can all take charge of their lives and health, one person, one family, and one community at a time.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Plate adjustment as diabetes prevention, says expert

By Rachel Parks

Thirty million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes, and one-third of them are undiagnosed and untreated, said Mack Bonner, co-chair of Hampton Roads Community Outreach for the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetes, Bonner told 40 people gathered in the Student Center Ballroom, has a higher prevalence in blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans. There are 80 million people living with pre-diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic illness marked by inadequate insulin amounts and/or insulin effects resulting in an excess amount of glucose in blood. Diabetes is a vascular disease, with two types. Type 1 diabetes means the individual cannot produce insulin, and Type 2 diabetes result from the individual's environment, i.e., fatty foods, not enough exercise, and the body needs protection from insulin.

Diabetes can be prevented by dieting, weight loss, exercise and cardio to lower insulin resistance, and calorie reduction. Another prevention strategy is the "plate" method": Half of your plate green vegetables, one quarter starches and one quarter lean meats.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communication.

Diabetes testing and prevention urged at Hampton U. conference

By Dominique Burns

A medical breakthrough has occurred due to the different methods of measuring blood sugar in diabetes patients, said a presenter Thursday at the 37th annual Hampton University Black Family Conference.

Glucose meters, strips and needles are many ways that diabetes patients measure their levels today. With the help of technology it has been made easier for patients with diabetes to keep track of their eating habits and to stay healthy.

Mack Bonner, the morning segment presenter, highlighted an important moment in the past history of diabetes when a question arose from the crowd. Now, doctors can measure sugar intake as well as the level of diabetes through urine. Instead of medical instruments and needles, tools have been made to test urine on glucose testing strips. These strips are used today and have been made more efficient for diabetes patients.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Hampton U. fans go many extra miles to support their Pirates

By Jelani Scott

SCOTT DEPOT, W. Va. – Dozens of Hampton University students paid $5 each and packed a chartered bus that at this writing Thursday was on a 9 ½ hour, 638-mile trek to Louisville, Ky. to watch the 16th-seeded Pirates play No. 1 seeded University of Kentucky.

Coach Edward Joyner Jr. was still waiting for Jesus' divine intervention for a chance to beat the beasts of the Midwest regional.

ESPN analysts gave the Pirates a four hundreds of 1 percent shot of beating the 34-0 Wildcats. Nevertheless, Hampton fans are here to support their team. For some travelers, representing the coastal Virginia campus is as big as playing in the NCAA tournament.

Morgan Lewis-Harris, a sophomore history major from Baltimore said, "I decided to come on the trip because I have been working and watching the men's basketball team all season, and it is such a great experience to a part of.

"I would want people to know that this is the best HBCU on the East Coast. There is no place I would rather be."

Erica Davis, 2nd year, 5-year MBA major from Fredericksburg, Va. said, "I decided to come to come on the trip because I used to play ball. I know how it feels to go so far and have those fans cheering you on and motivating you to push and do your best.

"Everyone deserves a support system, and we just so happen to be theirs.

"One thing I would want people to know about HU is that we are one. We are a family and we have each other's backs no matter what we go through."

Follow the Hampton Pirates on Twitter at #BelieveinHamptonU and #HamptonNation.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Diabetes soared 43 percent in 8 years, said expert at Hampton U.

By Ashlee Brown

Type 2 diabetes in America has increased 43 percent since 2007, and has been common in children as young as age 10, said a health expert Wednesday at the opening of the 37th Hampton University Black Family Conference.

Griffin P. Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, told the conferees, "The Centers for Disease Control estimated that by 2050, 50 million Americans will have diabetes. Although, many people tend to overlook the illness, it is still a serious matter."

Rodgers explained the difference between Type 1 diabetes – previously known as juvenile onset – and Type 2 diabetes, called adult onset. Type 1 is usually diagnosed in children and adolescents.

"In this case, he said, "the body's immune system turns against the cells and the pancreas that are producing insulin for unclear reasons, which causes the body to lose its' ability to generate insulin. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented if dieting and exercising become an element in everyday lives, because obesity is a major factor, Rodgers added.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, also known as GDM, is a form of high blood sugar that commonly affects women during pregnancy. Rodgers said that women who have a history of this disorder have a 70-percent greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, rather than women who haven't had a history of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus.

This disease affects at least 7 percent or up to 18 percent of U.S pregnancies, said Rodgers.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Diabetes control focus of Hampton U. Black Family conference

By Kayla Johnson

On Wednesday, March 18, Hampton University will kick off the 37th Annual Conference on the Black Family.

This year's conference is hosted by the School of Pharmacy and the theme is "Controlling Diabetes: A Call to Action for Minority Families." The focus is on the problem of diabetes, heath disparities and diabetes management in communities.

"Our Dean would like for Hampton University's School of Pharmacy to become a leading pharmacy school to specialize in diabetes research and medications in the future and that is why this theme was selected," said Tiffany Hatcher of Alabama, a 2017 Doctorate of Pharmacy Candidate.

Wednesday night the conference begins with an opening ceremony and will be followed on Thursday with a series of panels, roundtables and luncheons. The last day of the conference will be held on Friday, March 20, with a closing luncheon featuring keynote speaker Rear Admiral Pamela Schweitzer.

Schweitzer currently serves as the chief pharmacy professional officer of the U.S. Public Health Service and assistant surgeon general. As chief pharmacy professional officer, Schweitzer is responsible for providing leadership and coordination of Public Health Service pharmacy programs and professional affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Due to her experience in the world of pharmacy and her federal government perspective, she is more than qualified to speak on this year's theme and the federal government's initiative 'Healthy People2020'," said Hatcher.

When asked if she would be attending the Conference on the Black Family, Margie Merritt, a junior strategic communications major, said, "Yes, I definitely am. Diabetes is very prominent in the African-American community so to have a conference focusing on something so crucial is great. It gives African-Americans the opportunity for open discussion on something that should be talked about a lot more."

The Annual Conference on the Black Family was formed when Hampton University President William R. Harvey saw a need for a consistent and formal dialogue to discuss important issues concerning the black family. The event has been serving the Hampton University community as well as the local community since 1978.

To register online for The 37th Annual Conference on the Black Family, visit or call 757.727.5071.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Hampton U. Pirates, invading Spartans battle for bay bragging rights

By Trayonna Hendricks

"Behold the green and gold," is what Norfolk State likes to say.

Our Hampton University fans in response choose to show those Spartans the Pirates' way. Thursday, March 5 will be the big day for our school's annual Battle of the Bay basketball games.

"The battle of the bay experience is one of a kind," said Daniel Brown, a senior political science major from Greenville, S.C. "We can lose every game in the season, [but] as long as we beat Norfolk State we have bragging rights."

With such a big game ahead, lots of preparation must take place. Jasmine Wynn, a sophomore kinesiology major from Prince George's County, Md., is a member of Blue Thunder, Hampton University's cheerleading team. She said, "When it comes to the battle of the bay games we always prepare our advanced stuff since we know that they're bringing their cheerleaders, and it stirs up competition."

"Norfolk State usually brings a lot of people with them, so we need all of our fans to be just as live."

Munitra Fujah, a third-year, 5-year MBA major from Trenton, N.J., said "From my experience as a student leader, we usually create chants and slogans for the game. We would make sure we wore Hampton paraphernalia to show our school spirit. With the Battle of the Bay game being this Thursday I am excited to see the competition and who will win. I am hoping that other students will have the same school spirit and enthusiasm."

Not only are these big games because of our rivalry, it's also big because it is senior night for some of the players. Crystal Smitherman, a senior biology major, leadership studies minor from Birmingham, Ala. is also a varsity golfer and she said, "As an athlete this game will be bittersweet because it also is the last time I will be able to support other athletes as well. So it kind of has me in the mindset of my last golf tournament, which is at the end of April.

"It's just been such an honor to go to school at Hampton and to have an HBCU experience, and battle of the bay is one of those experiences where two HBCUs can come together and show their school spirit but also unite over a basketball game."

The highly anticipated basketball games will kick off at 5:30 p.m. with the Lady Pirates, and our Pirates will follow up right after them at 7:30 p.m.

The writer is a student at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.