Question: Why Is It Important For African-Americans To Be Especially Aware Of Their Risk Factors For Heart Disease?
Answer: When we think about the burden of heart disease in the American society, we have to acknowledge that there's one group that appears to have an excessive burden of heart disease. In fact, African-Americans have the highest rate of death due to coronary heart disease in this country and amongst the highest rates in the world.
Why is that? It's because of the coming together of these risk factors that put any of us at risk for heart disease. So, high blood pressure, diabetes, the incidence is very high, obesity, the incidence may be the highest, and even physical inactivity. When you put together all of these negative risk factors, you now set up a scenario where this group of individuals, unfortunately, is at extreme risk for heart disease, and in fact, that risk is realized on a day-to-day basis.
And so the way we get at this is by pre-emptive and early intervention with regards to these risk factors. So what's the short version? For the African-American person, not patient, person, get the blood pressure checked at an early age. If elevated, have it treated, change the diet, go towards something heart healthy. If you are overweight, reduce the weight, 10, 15, 20 pounds, any weight reduction makes a difference. If you're not active, consider adding some modest amount of physical activity to your regimen. These are simple things, low cost, but they can make a huge difference in reducing this burden of heart disease in African-Americans.
A lot of science and research has to come forward so we can understand what uniquely causes this, but what you can do right now is adjust these risk factors; blood pressure is the key, obesity is the key, activity is important, get screened for diabetes and get it treated.