Nearly half of all African-American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, according to the CDC.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US and the statistics are even more worrisome for black Americans.
African Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
“A general awareness of how to care for your heart and the things you can do to prevent it – is very important, especially for people of color,” said Regence director of health services Tonya Adams.
Nearly half of all African-American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease — including heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Social factors play the most significant role in shaping people’s health. This includes money and resources, education, quality health care, a safe living environment (clean air/water) and access to nutritious food.
“A lot of them fall into the socioeconomic category,” said Adams. “If you think about some of the neighborhoods that African Americans live in; some have food deserts, don’t have access to good health care, that sort of thing. Too much stress, finances, and sometimes obesity, and you put all those factors together, it just increases the chance of having some kind of heart problem: whether it’s a stroke, heart attack, etc.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke in the US. About two out of five American adults have high blood pressure.
Although African-American adults are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure, they are less likely than whites to have their blood pressure under control, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in women, disproportionately affecting Black women. It is also important to note that Black women are less likely than Caucasian women to know that heart disease is the leading cause of death.
African American women are nearly 60% more likely to have high blood pressure compared to non-Hispanic white women. Cardiovascular disease kills more than 50,000 black women annually, according to the American Heart Association.
Nearly 58% of black women over the age of 20 have high blood pressure. Only about 20 percent of these women have their blood pressure under control.
“Know your numbers. If you don’t have a blood pressure monitor at home, get one, they are quite inexpensive. And just know your numbers and monitor them regularly,” said Adams.
Know your numbers: blood pressure
- When it comes to high blood pressure, 120 over 80 is where you want to be.
- Prehypertension levels are 120-139 at the top and 80-80 at the bottom.
- High blood pressure, stage 1, is 140-159 at the top and 90-99 at the bottom.
- High blood pressure, stage 2, is 160 or higher at the top and 100 or higher at the bottom.
- Know your family history
- Know the signs and symptoms of heart disease, heart attack and stroke
- Be aware of medications and medical conditions
- Stay up-to-date on annual physician visits
- A healthy lifestyle is key: a nutritious diet and regular exercise.
“I can’t stress enough, exercise is really important, that you get out there and exercise,” said Adams, “and then eat right, of course. Do all the things you can to help prevent heart attacks or heart problems.