Written by Tawanda Gray
February is a month set aside as an acknowledgement of Black History Month, the day of love, Valentine’s Day, as well as other causes. For the African American community, a community that is at higher risk for Heart Disease than any other ethnic group, Heart Disease Awareness Month is one of the most important causes we must embrace in combating behaviors that contribute to the Heart Disease risk factors in African Americans. What are the major contributors to Heart Disease within the African American community?
- Cardiovascular Disease is a health condition that involves the narrowing or blockage of blood flow to the Heart that can lead to a High Blood Pressure, Heart Attack, Angina, or Stroke.
- Coronary Heart Disease is the health condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries, also known as Atherosclerosis, which can lead to Heart Attack, Angina, or Stroke.
- Angina is not a health condition, but is an underlying sign of Heart Disease. Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs if an area of your Heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood. Angina is usually a symptom of Atherosclerosis.
- Stroke is a health condition in which bloods clot or restriction of blood flow deprives the brain of proper oxygen-rich blood, which could result in the death of brain tissue. Stroke is a brain attack, but due to the restriction of blood flow, Stroke can affect the heart.
- High Blood Cholesterol is a health condition in which there is an elevated level of cholesterol lipids present in the blood. The elevated levels of cholesterol can cause fatty deposits that restrict oxygen rich blood flow, which can lead to Heart Disease, Heart Attack, Stroke, or all three.
- High Blood Pressure is a health condition in which the arteries become narrow, which increases the pressure of blood flow in the body. Unmanaged increase in blood pressure can lead to Heart Attack, Stroke, or both.
- Physical Inactivity can contribute to Obesity, Diabetes, of Cardiovascular Disease, High Blood Pressure, Coronary Heart Disease, and Stroke. Physical inactivity increases the risk of Cardiovascular Disease by 30-50%. Physical activity assists all body systems with proper function.
- Overweight and Obesity are conditions that can contribute to Coronary Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, Stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, and High and Low Blood Cholesterol.
- Heart Disease is a health condition that develops in people who have Diabetes. Coronary Heart Disease, Heart Failure, and Diabetic Cardiomyopathy are the heart diseases associated with Diabetes. Heart Failure is when the heart muscle has grown incapable of pumping blood throughout the body properly. Diabetic cardiomyopathy is when the heart muscle becomes enlarged, hard, and thick, which ultimately affects the heart’s ability to pump, contributing to heart failure.
- Tobacco use is an action that greatly contributes to Coronary Heart Disease, Diabetes, Heart Attack, and Stroke. Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels. Smoking is associated with 2.4 million preventable deaths annually.