• Emily Wilkins

Black History Month & Heart Awareness Month

Today marks a new month, new beginnings, and new goals even if we are still working on the same goals. However, today also marks the start of Black History Month and Heart Awareness month. As we celebrate and honor our rich history and the impact we have made throughout the U.S., we must also talk about the underlining fact that cardiovascular disease is prevalent in the African American community.


According to the CDC, 1 and 3 deaths in the United States are related to heart disease. Although heart disease affects all age ages, genders, races, and ethnicities, African Americans still pose a higher risk than others. Nearly half of all African Americans adults have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke. So, what is the leading cause? The leading cause of heart disease is high blood pressure.


According to the CDC, about 2 out of every 5 African American adults have high blood pressure, and less than half of them have it under control. Sadly, African American adults are much more likely to suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attacks, and stroke deaths than our white counterparts. So, what can you do to help prevent heart disease?


  1. Eat a healthy diet. with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Choose foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.

  2. Exercise regularly. Adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes total) of exercise each week. You can spread your activity out during the week and can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day.

  3. Be smoke-free. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.

  4. Limit alcohol use, which can lead to long-term health problems, including heart disease and cancer. If you do choose to drink, do so in moderation, which is no more than one drink a day for women.

  5. Know your family history. We cannot express this enough! It is especially important to know your family history so you can act with your physician. There may be factors that could increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

  6. Manage any medical condition you might have. Learn the ABCS of heart health. Keep them in mind every day and especially when you talk to your health provider:

  • Appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it

  • Blood pressure control

  • Cholesterol management

  • Smoking cessation

References:


Celebrate African American History Month (2017, February 06). Retrieved January 31, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/african-american-history/index.html

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