Did you know that the No. 1 health enemy of Black women is heart disease?
I am sounding the alarm today because I do not understand the silence. I have shared much life-saving information on Ask the Good Doctor ever week. However, the information I am sharing here is probably the most important thing I have ever conveyed.
The Black Women’s Health Imperative.org says, “Heart Disease is so bad (among Black women) that you should wake up thinking about it. You should talk about it with every other woman you know. Because it’s killing us—right now.”
As crazy as this might sound, heart disease is the leading cause of death for all women in the United States, but only about one-in-three Black women is aware of it.
In the late 1990s, researchers discovered women were about as likely as men to be diagnosed with heart disease and for most of them, they were more likely to die from it. Women did not have the classic signs and symptoms. So, often and unfortunately, it went undiagnosed and untreated.
According to one recent study in the Medical Journal, symptoms include: along with chest pain, women also suffer from fatigue, shortness of breath, indigestion, pain in the neck, back or jaw, nausea, or anxiety for months leading-up to a heart attack. (I am also going to throw in constipation.) In more than half of the cases, doctors fail to recognize the symptoms. I have to add that doctors do not even look at constipation as a risk factor while holistic practitioners certainly do.
Heart disease is the number one cause of both death and disability in women in the United States. And Black women have an even higher chance of dying from heart disease—and at a younger age—compared to white women, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
How big is this problem? About 49% of African American women over age 20 have some type of heart disease:
- Clogged arteries in the heart, arms or legs
- High Blood Pressure
- Angina (chest pain)
That means nearly one-in every-two Black women in the U.S. has heart disease. Let me reiterate…half of all Black women has or have had heart disease. That is every other Black woman you know.
The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that: Black women are nearly twice as likely to have a stroke compared with white women.
There are several reasons why heart disease tends to be such a big issue for African Americans generally, and Black women specifically. Diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease.
Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that because you can get heart disease from your genes, sometimes you can also get it from picking up unhealthy habits from your parents.
Now this is the truth!
The lifestyles we engage in comes from learned familial behaviors…especially in what we eat! The macaroni and cheese with five cheeses AND evaporated milk and a pound of butter, and the cake you make from Auntie’s secret recipe is a heart attack on a plate. However, I counter that heart disease is not in your gene pool, rather it is in your recipe box. Your Biography does not constitute your Biology.
You do not have to inherit the diseases of Mama, Grannie and Auntie and Dad unless you are eating what they ate! So please stop speaking disease into your life by saying, “My mom had heart disease, so I will have it eventually, too.” If you do what Mama did then sadly, YES you will. If you stop what you’re doing and walk in the opposite direction, you will not!
If you’re frying vegetables in grease or snacking on deep-fried French Fries a few times a week, you might want to replace those habits with healthier ones. Try fresh, raw vegetables or baked potatoes.
Your arteries will breathe a sigh of relief.
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