Cardiovascular Disease: How You Can Save Yourself

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer among African-American women.

Posted: 04/12/2011 05:36 PM EDT
Heart Disease

Long considered a man’s disease, cardiovascular disease is the leading killer among the Black women—and, unfortunately, too many women are dying from it because they lack access to adequate care, according to a study.

Cardiovascular disease is a blanket term for any disease that affects the heart not limited to coronary artery disease, problems with heart rhythm, and heart infections. Most of these conditions lead to blockage in blood vessels, which often lead to heart attack, chest pain and stroke.

Compared to white women, at least 45 percent of Black women have some form of cardiovascular disease while only 32 percent of white women do. Black women die from heart attacks 30 percent more often and are 78 percent more likely to have a stroke. Some of the main factors that put Black women at risk of developing cardiovascular disease include high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol as well as smoking.

The trouble is that 77 percent of Black women over the age of 20 are over their healthy weight, 17 percent over the age of 18 smoke and 45 percent have high blood pressure. These statistics make it difficult for Black women to escape this deadly disease.

The good news is that this by no means has to be a death sentence. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:

— Make an appointment with your doctor for a physical exam. Be sure to ask for screenings for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels and your risk of developing heart disease.

— Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week to keep your heart healthy and your weight down.

— Aim to eat a balanced diet.

— Don’t smoke, it weakens your heart.


(Photo: Ware/Landov)