African American Heritage and Heart Health

When you think heritage what comes to mind? For me I think about all of the traditions and values that get passed down from generation to generation. Heritage is very unique in every family to help keep their culture alive and well. Sadly, one of the things that might get over looked in heritage is potential health risk especially for African Americans and heart disease. Even though it is known to be the number one killer for all Americans, but the risk of having heart disease is even higher for African Americans.

Cardiovascular disease or known as heart disease is a condition that involves diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots. Most common types include:

· Coronary artery disease

· High blood pressure

· Cardiac arrest

· Arrythmia

· Stroke

Looking at the numbers 48% of women and 44% of men have some form of heart disease. Even looking at the growth of the middle and upper class of African Americans their chances are still greater than Caucasians that have similar backgrounds. The most common diagnosed is high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a condition where the force of blood being pushed against the artery walls is too high. Having high blood pressure can increase the risk of getting heart disease and stroke. It is more severe in African Americans and it can also start at a younger age. Luckily, it can be detected very easily and through medication, diet, and exercise high blood pressure can be controlled.

Lowering the Risk

There are a lot of ways to prevent the risk of heart disease but a lot of habits might need to change to accomplish this goal.

1. Know your number in regard of blood pressure

a. Normal: 120/80

b. High Blood Pressure stage 1: 130-139/80-89

c. High Blood Pressure stage 2: 140 (or higher)/ 90 (or higher)

d. Hypertensive Crisis: higher than 180/ higher than 120

2. Taking the correct medication

3. Eat a healthy diet

4. Watch salt intake

5. Physical exercise

6. Teach your children

7. Lower Stress

8. Quit Smoking

A lot of these changes might be hard to manage at first but think of the better future for you and family. Making sure that you are constantly checking your blood pressure to see if it is high will help monitor it. Also making sure you are taking the right medication. I know stress can be very hard to avoid especially with times like these during COVID 19. Make time for yourself. It might be a good idea to take notes while you are stressed out to identify your stressors and explain why they made you stress. Along with keeping the log about stressful events, you can use it to help keep track of your food and physical activity to show your progress. Like we stated earlier change can be hard but if you motivate yourself anything is possible and can be passed on to other members of your family now and in the future.

Brought to you by the Buffalo Trace District Health Department:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Preferred-Logo-1024x1024.png

This article was written by Emma White for the Buffalo Trace District Health Department. Published February 3, 2021.