The 411 on Blacks and Heart Health

How to protect your ticker from heart disease.

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February Is American Heart Health Month - This February, don’t forget that it’s American Heart Health Month, too. Heart disease is the number-one killer of adults in the U.S. Read more about African-American heart disease stats and what you can do to strengthen your ticker. —Kellee Terrell (@kelleent) (Photo: MarsBars/ GettyImages)

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Why Heart Health Matters - Your heart, which is the size of your fist, is a muscle in your chest. The heart’s main goal is to send blood around your body with the help of pumping it through the vessels. The heart also provides your body with the oxygen and nutrients it needs as well as carrying away waste.(Photo: GettyImages) 

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What Is Heart Disease? - Heart disease is more than having a heart attack. Heart disease defines a host of problems that affect the arteries, capillaries and veins, including coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke and congenital heart disease, says WebMD.(Photo: Blend Images/ERproductions Ltd/GettyImages)

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Blacks and Heart Disease - African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by heart disease. We are 30 times more likely to die from heart disease and 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than whites. We are also less likely to have our high blood pressure under control and more likely to die from strokes. (Photo: Siri Stafford/Getty Images)

It Is Not Just an Old Folk?s Problem - When we think about heart disease, we think of our grandparents and parents. But heart disease is becoming a serious health issue among younger Blacks. As we suffer from obesity and other chronic illnesses at a younger age, heart disease is starting to show its signs earlier, too. (Photo: John Lund/Tiffany Schoepp/Blend Images/Corbis)

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It Is Not Just an Old Folk’s Problem - When we think about heart disease, we think of our grandparents and parents. But heart disease is becoming a serious health issue among younger Blacks. As we suffer from obesity and other chronic illnesses at a younger age, heart disease is starting to show its signs earlier, too. (Photo: John Lund/Tiffany Schoepp/Blend Images/Corbis)

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What Puts Us at Higher Risk? - Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes — all of which Blacks disproportionately suffer from — increase our risk of developing heart disease. Also, having a family history of these illnesses can increase our chances of having it, too, says the American Heart Association. The key are making serious lifestyle changes and keeping your chronic illnesses in check. (Photo: GettyImages)

Blacks and High Blood Pressure - Having high blood pressure also puts African-Americans at risk for heart disease, especially given that we are 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than whites. We are also less likely to have our high blood pressure under control than whites. (Photo: ERproductions Ltd/Blend Images/Corbis)

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Blacks and High Blood Pressure - Having high blood pressure also puts African-Americans at risk for heart disease, especially given that we are 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than whites. We are also less likely to have our high blood pressure under control than whites. (Photo: ERproductions Ltd/Blend Images/Corbis)

Understand Your Cholesterol Levels - Managing your cholesterol ? HDLs, LDLS and triglycerides ? is crucial in taking care of your heart. Cholesterol, which your body needs, isn?t good when your levels are out of whack. Too much of the bad and too little of the good can clog your heart?s arteries and cause heart disease. (Photo: Blend Images/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Corbis)

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Understand Your Cholesterol Levels - Managing your cholesterol — HDLs, LDLS and triglycerides — is crucial in taking care of your heart. Cholesterol, which your body needs, isn’t good when your levels are out of whack. Too much of the bad and too little of the good can clog your heart’s arteries and cause heart disease. (Photo: Blend Images/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Corbis)

Stop Smoking! - Did you know that almost 1 in 5 Blacks smoke? Smoking not only raises our risk of lung cancer, but it also steps up your likelihood of having heart disease. The chemicals in cigarettes damage your heart and its vessels along with creating plaque in your arteries. (Photo: Dann Tardif/LWA/Corbis)

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Stop Smoking! - Did you know that almost 1 in 5 Blacks smoke? Smoking not only raises our risk of lung cancer, but it also steps up your likelihood of having heart disease. The chemicals in cigarettes damage your heart and its vessels along with creating plaque in your arteries. (Photo: Dann Tardif/LWA/Corbis)

You Gotta Sweat - Maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active is crucial in strengthening and maintaining good heart health. Exercise lowers your blood pressure, helps you reach and stay at a healthy weight, reduces stress and can relieve congestive heart failure symptoms. So go take that Zumba class and grab some weights!(Photo: Pete Saloutos/Corbis)

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You Gotta Sweat - Maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active is crucial in strengthening and maintaining good heart health. Exercise lowers your blood pressure, helps you reach and stay at a healthy weight, reduces stress and can relieve congestive heart failure symptoms. So go take that Zumba class and grab some weights!(Photo: Pete Saloutos/Corbis)

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Quit Eating Crap - Eating less fast foods, fried foods and foods high in sodium, sugar and calories can make a huge difference in your weight, your cholesterol levels and can determine whether or not your arteries are clogged. Start eating lean meats and more fruits and vegetables. Oh, and start drinking more water. (Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Corbis)

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Quit Eating Crap - Eating less fast foods, fried foods and foods high in sodium, sugar and calories can make a huge difference in your weight, your cholesterol levels and can determine whether or not your arteries are clogged. Start eating lean meats and more fruits and vegetables. Oh, and start drinking more water. (Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Corbis)

May Is National Mediterranean Diet Month - May commemorates National Mediterranean Diet Month. Read more about this scientifically proven diet that can improve your heart health and help you lose weight. —Kellee Terrell (Photo: David Silverman/Getty Images)

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African-Americans and the Mediterranean Diet - Past studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet, which consist of fish, olive oil and vegetables, is great for heart health for all races. Just watch out for the high sodium count found in olive oils and other foods in this diet. Reading food labels is key.(Photo: David Silverman/Getty Images)

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How Risk Factors Affect Us The Most - A recent 2014 study found that the risk factors for heart disease--high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes?are even more dangerous among Blacks than whites. Researchers found that diabetes doubled the heart disease risk in Blacks and hypertension raised our risk by 36 percent, Health Day reported. (Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Corbis)

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How Risk Factors Affect Us The Most - A recent 2014 study found that the risk factors for heart disease--high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes—are even more dangerous among Blacks than whites. Researchers found that diabetes doubled the heart disease risk in Blacks and hypertension raised our risk by 36 percent, Health Day reported. (Photo: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Corbis)

In Good Hands - 80.5 percent: percentage of Blacks that were covered by health insurance during all or part of 2011. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Heart Health Knowledge Increases Among Black Women - Good news: Heart health knowledge has doubled among Black women. The bad news: The numbers are still much lower than white women. Researchers found that 15 percent of Black women knew that heart disease was the number-one killer of women. Now it’s 36 percent, compared to 56 percent of white women, says Medpage Today.  (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Stress Hurts Your Heart, Too - Stress and heart disease can be a deadly combination. But meditation can help. A 2012 study showed African-Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke or die compared with African-Americans who attended a health education class over more than five years.(Photo: jonya/GettyImages)

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Access to Health Care Matters - Past studies have found that our poorer health outcomes transcend our behavior, according to Womenshealth.gov. It’s also about our lack of access to health care. Black adults are less likely to receive the same tests and treatments as our white counterparts. This is why enrolling in Obamacare can make a huge difference in our heart health outcomes.  (Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Take Back the Power - Yes, we may be more prone to heart disease, but that doesn?t mean it has to be part of your future. Take control, make the necessary lifestyle changes, get tested for hypertension, diabetes and other chronic illnesses that may put you a higher risk for heart disease. Also talk to your doctor about any concerns you have. Make your health a priority and take that power back. (Photo:  Dann Tardif/LWA/Corbis)

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Take Back the Power - Yes, we may be more prone to heart disease, but that doesn’t mean it has to be part of your future. Take control, make the necessary lifestyle changes, get tested for hypertension, diabetes and other chronic illnesses that may put you a higher risk for heart disease. Also talk to your doctor about any concerns you have. Make your health a priority and take that power back. (Photo:  Dann Tardif/LWA/Corbis)