In my last article titled African-American women and Heart Disease, I wrote about how African-American women were dying at an increased rate from heart disease. I also wrote about how my family has a history of heart disease: partly genetics and partly lifestyle. In this article, I will discuss some tips to help African-American women avoid heart disease.
Statistics of African American Women and Heart Disease
I grew up in the deep South, and although women had limited financial means, they lived to be in their 80’s and 90’s. I can’t recall the women have massive strokes and heart attacks. The statistics are alarming:
African American Women Take Charge of Your Health
I mentioned earlier about genetics. Although genetics MAY play a role, we do have the power to “overpower” genetics. Let me explain.
Have you ever heard of epigenetics? Basically, epigenetics says that although we may have faulty genes, we do have some control over how these genes are expressed.
For example, if you have a person whose parents are alcoholics, the current level of thought is that you will be an alcoholic, right? But what if you never drink alcohol? Then you won’t become an alcoholic! This is the definition of epigenetics.
Tips for African-American Women to Avoid Heart Disease
I am going to give you some tips to help you avoid heart disease. These tips include the following. I will go over each tip in detail.
Maintain Normal Blood Pressure
If there is one main factor to avoid heart disease, it is to maintain your blood pressure. African-American people have the highest rate of high blood pressure in the world. Think about that…
The best way to make sure you don’t have high blood pressure is to take your blood pressure monthly. You should take it weekly if you have prehypertension or diabetes. This is a great monitor to get started with.
Even with those statistics, we can change this. High blood pressure is a silent killer but there are ways to prevent the devastation that high blood pressure causes.
There are many ways to keep your blood pressure under control. For example, in African American culture, food plays a big role in entertainment. African Americans tend to season with salt. Although salt tastes good, salt is not good for maintaining your blood pressure.
We need to learn different ways to season our foods such as herbs, garlic powders, onion powders, and lemon juice. When lemon juice is cooked on food, the lemon juices take on a salty flavor.
Here are the newest high blood pressure guidelines.
Maintain Normal Blood Sugar
Diabetes has been shown to be a major contributor to heart disease because of the damage that elevated sugar causes the blood vessels.
Diabetes has also been linked to kidney failure. Diabetes causes heart disease because people who have kidney failure releases too much of an enzyme called renin. When there is too much renin released, there is an increased risk of stroke and congestive heart failure.
Here are some simple ways that you can decrease your blood sugar:
People either hate or love exercise. The fact of the matter is that exercise is good for the entire body. Exercise is good for all kinds of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Exercise helps people with heart disease because the heart is a muscle. Therefore, when you exercise, the oxygenated blood goes through your entire body. When you are exercising, the arteries in the heart dilate, thus more oxygen and blood pumps through your heart.
There is no need to run marathons in order for exercise to be effective. All you have to do is 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 times a week. Aerobic exercises are walking, running on the treadmill, bicycling, rowing, etc.
Not only will exercise help your heart function it will do the following:
African -Americans have a high rate of smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control, ” Although African Americans usually smoke fewer cigarettes and start smoking cigarettes at an older age, they are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than Whites”.
Heart disease, stroke, and cancer are the leading cause of deaths of African-Americans. These three diagnoses have been directly related to smoking.
Although African-Americans start smoking at a later age than Caucasians, African -Americans have higher morbidity and mortality. African-American children have been exposed to second-hand smoke more than any other ethnic group.
- Among African American current daily cigarette smokers aged 18 years and older:
- 72.8% report that they want to quit
- Despite more quitting attempts, African Americans are less successful at quitting than White and Hispanic cigarette smokers
- African Americans have less access to smoking cessation resources
There are many aids to help you to stop smoking.
Maintain Normal Weight
African-Americans have dietary preferences born from cultural influences and necessity. The preference for a particular type of cuisine called soul food has resulted in various health problems for African-Americans.
Obesity is one of the biggest challenges in the African-American community. Obesity is associated with increased premature death and the prevalence of heart disease. Some common diseases associated with obesity are:
Percentages of People Who Are Obese Over the Age of 20
Obesity causes heart disease for several reasons:
I will show you how to lose weight safely and permanently.
First I will discuss the keto or low carb diet. This is a simple diet to follow but it can be challenging! Basically the low carb diet cuts out of your diet the following foods:
- Processed sugar foods
- Regular soda and juices
- High sugar fruits
- High starches like potatoes and corn
If you cut out these foods I guarantee you will lose weight. If you have diabetes, you will also reduce your blood sugar, and your A1C will drop like a rock!
You do not have to sacrifice good tasting food for health food. I have used several types of herbs such as garlic powder, onion powder, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary, and basil.
If you have high blood pressure you have a couple of diets you can follow. The DASH diet has been proven to lower blood pressure. The DASH diet works because it is low in sodium and high in potassium. You see, some African-Americans have a salt sensitivity.
The low carb-keto diet will also reduce your blood pressure because it regulates insulin secretion in your body.
African-American women are dying at a record rate. Most of these deaths are due to lifestyle issues. Most of these deaths are preventable. If you implement these tips, you will lessen your risk of developing heart disease.
My name is Phyllis Robinson MSN, RN. I have been a Registered Nurse for 27 years in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. I am passionate about cardiac care and heart disease. I also want this blog to be an educational tool that people can refer to for traditional and alternative treatment. I will blog on heart disorders such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and high cholesterol.
I received my Nursing degree from Baltimore Community College.
I went on to receive my Masters in Nursing from Walden University
I have worked for almost 30 years in Critical Care with a focus on heart health. I am an advocate of preventive healthcare.