There are several factors which put Black women at a higher risk for heart disease. These include diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inactivity, obesity, and a family history of heart disease. Black women are twice as likely to be at risk for stroke versus Caucasians and are often likely to die at a younger age versus other ethnicities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that each year Americans have more than 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes. 48% of African American women have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke.
The American Heart Association also reports some unsettling statistics around heart disease and African-American women:
- Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American women annually.
- Of African-American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart conditions.
- Only 1 in 5 African-American women believes she is personally at risk.
- Only 52 percent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
- Only 36 percent of African-American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.
The good news is that there are ways to decrease your risk of heart attacks and strokes. They are often referred to the as the ABCs and can be implemented and monitored with the help of your doctor.
- A – Take aspirin as directed by your health care provider.
- B – Control your blood pressure.
- C – Manage your cholesterol.
- S – Don’t smoke.
Eating a healthy diet, controlling your sodium or salt intake, and exercising are also ways to combat heart disease. Your doctor may even suggest medications to help you manage your heart disease. Being aware of how to handle and be proactive about heart disease is the first step to managing and preventing heart disease.