When it comes to risk factors for heart disease, Black women have to be more careful than Black men. Yes, heart disease disproportionately affects the entire Black community. But, according to the Emmy-nominated Dr. Jennifer H. Mieres, certain risk factors predisposed to heart disease are more potent in women. That includes hypertension and diabetes, Mieres said.
Other examples of those at higher risk for heart disease include:
- Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Women with menopause before age 45
- Women with pregnancy-related complication (diabetes, hypertension, eclampsia)
- Women with autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus)
Women with hypertension are at the highest risk for heart failure, followed by women who are exposed to chronic stress.
“It’s extremely important to make your heart health a priority and to build on heart health habits throughout the year with your doctor,” Mieres said.
The Heart Smart for Black Women and Latinas book author shared a list of healthy eating, activity, stress control and other habits to prevent or manage heart disease.
- Make your plate more colorful.
- Eat a healthy breakfast every day.
- Have two servings of fatty fish every week (salmon, mackerel).
- Avoid processed foods and avoid adding sugar.
- Bake and broil and avoid frying.
- Put down the salt shaker.
“Get 30 minutes of activity every day,” Mieres said. That includes walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, cycling and Zumba – anything to help decrease the risk of heart disease.
Yoga, meditating, laughing for 10 minutes or breathing exercises can help with distressing each day.
- Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
- Find a friend, relative or co-worker to partner with you on the healthy heart journey.
- Partner with your doctor, ask questions and repeat their instruction back to the doctor so that you are certain you’ve interpreted them correctly.