Heart disease is the leading cause of death for all Americans, but certain minority groups face a greater risk than others. Deaths from heart disease are higher in black Americans than in white Americans and other ethnic groups.
Nearly 48% of African American women and 44% of African American men have some form of heart disease. The most common conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke among black Americans are high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
We have a few ways to help prevent heart disease in the black community.
Racial and ethnic heritage may influence the risk for heart disease, but lifestyle habits play a bigger role. Below are ways to reduce the risk factors for heart disease.
- Know your blood pressure numbers. Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. See a doctor to assess your heart disease risk factors and get regular checkups.
- Take your medications. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, it’s important to take that medications and follow your doctor’s instructions when taking the medication.
- Eat a healthy diet. For heart health, doctors recommend eating more fruits and vegetables and choose foods low in sodium, sugar (especially processed sugars), animal fats and saturated fat. Water is a better option instead of juice or soda.
- Get moving. Staying physically active will help you control your weight which results in a stronger heart. Try walking for 10 minutes, 3 times a day, at least 5 days a week. If the weather or area limits this, try walking in the house or take the stairs.
- Lower your stress. You can’t always avoid stress in your life, but look for ways to manage your stress. Take a few moments each day to sit quietly and take deep, slow breathes. Learn about meditation, which is a great way to manage stress.
The above steps will help you maintain a healthy weight which is a huge prevention factor.