African-Americans: Your Heart is a Ticking Time Bomb

Heart disease has been the leading cause of death of Americans for decades, but a recent study published in the March 19 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine found heart failure is occurring more frequently to those under 50 and overwhelmingly among African Americans

 Time magazine recently reported on The New England Journal of Medicine report, Time noted:

“Researchers report that one in 100 black adults develops heart failure in their 30s and 40s — a rate 20 times higher than that of similarly aged white men and women. Black adults who developed heart disease early had at least one of four risk factors: high blood pressure, being overweight, chronic kidney disease or low levels of “good” cholesterol. Blood pressure and heart risk rose in step: for each 10 mm increase in diastolic blood pressure, the risk of having heart failure in their 40s doubled. For each 5.7 increase in body mass index (BMI), a ratio of weight and height, the risk of developing heart failure increased by 40%.”

 “But the largest risk factor for heart failure among this group was chronic kidney disease, a condition that is often triggered by untreated diabetes and obesity. Black adults with chronic kidney disease experienced a stunning 20-fold jump in their risk of heart failure, compared with black adults without kidney disease”.

 “At the beginning of the study, 75% of black participants with hypertension were not taking medication for their condition; 10 years later, 57% still remained untreated.”

 Nearly 1 in 4 African Americans have cardiovascular disease, according to the American heart Association, which characterizes cardiovascular disease as diseases of the heart, stroke, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, congenital cardiovascular defects, hardening of the arteries and other diseases of the circulatory system. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, stress and lack of exercise.

 Growing up in the South, I know how much African Americans love their “Soul Food”. Just thinking about a hefty portion of friend chicken, candied yams, collard green, macaroni and cheese, corn bread, and sweet tea is making me hungry, but African Americans are going to have to start putting their health before their appetites.

The good thing is you can start taking steps now that can help you prevent heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic these tips can help you fight against Heart Disease:

1)       Do not smoke or use tobacco: Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries and the nicotine in cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder by narrowing your blood vessels and increasing your heart rate and blood pressure.

–          When you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just one year.

2)       Exercise for 30 Minutes a Day: Physical activity helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

3)       Eat Healthier: Eating a special diet called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan can help protect your heart. The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, which can help protect your heart. Beans, other low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish also can reduce your risk of heart disease.

–          Major sources of saturated fat include:

–          Red meat

–          Dairy products

–          Coconut and palm oils

–          Sources of trans fat include:

–          Deep-fried fast foods

–          Bakery products

–          Packaged snack foods

–          Margarines

–          Crackers

4)       Maintain a healthy weight: As you put on weight in adulthood, your weight gain is mostly fat rather than muscle. This excess weight can lead to conditions that increase your chances of heart disease — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

5)       Go to the doctor: High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. But without testing for them, you probably won’t know whether you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.

My father passed away, from a heart attack, in his mid-thirties. My life would have been significantly different had he not died. So, do not allow yourself or a loved one to have a broken heart because of heart disease.







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