Shaquille O'Neal and Elizabeth Ofili, MD, sit down to discuss Shaq Gets Real, which is a new campaign from Arbor Pharmaceuticals to increase awareness of the disparities in heart failure rates in the African American community.
The keynote address at the Heart Failure Society of America 2019 Scientific Sessions drew a lot of attention for a number of reasons.
With the emphasis on curbing the epidemic of heart failure in African Americans at an all-time high and Shaquille O’Neal, EdD, headlining with Elizabeth Ofili, MD, professor of medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine, the session was one of the most highly anticipated of the meeting.
While he is neither a patient or a doctor of medicine, O’Neal partnered with Arbor Pharmaceuticals in March for their Shaquille Gets Real About Heart Failure campaign, which aims to increase awareness of the disparities of heart failure rates in African Americans.
O’Neal sat down with MD Magazine® after their address to discuss how the partnership aims to address the issue plaguing the African American community.
MD Mag: Can you discuss your partnership with Arbor Pharmaceuticals and what prompted your interest in heart failure?
O’Neal: My personal interest is just informing people. Just go get checked out with your physician. I met with this lovely doctor in Atlanta and she hooked me up with Arbor Pharmaceuticals to talk about the heart failure disparity in the African American community. You know, 5.5 million people suffer from this disease but it really hits the African American community. I just wanted to be the guy to help.
Keep in mind, I do not suffer from heart failure. I'm not a physician, but I have a voice, I have a platform. I just want people to go get checked out. Just go see your physician, make sure you don't have symptoms, make sure you know what you're doing, know what to take and know what not to take, what the side effects are, and all that stuff.
I was one of those people that never gets checked out and if it wasn't for her I would probably have never got checked out. First thing she said to me when she met me was "Have you been checked?" and I said "Checked for what?". My only recollection of a doctor was the NBA physicals, which were not much, and then you just move on. I know there is a lot of bravado men that think like I think and I just want them to be aware that the older we get we have to start checking things out.
We don't want to wait till the last minute and have it get worse. So we started a website, ShaqGetsReal.com that gives you all the information and gives you some testimonial with great information.