Heart Disease in African Americans

Heart disease, technically known as cardiovascular disease (CVD), is the number one killer of African Americans. Cardiovascular disease is the narrowing of arteries due to the build-up of atherosclerosis, or plaque, in the walls of arteries (Heart. org). This narrowing of the blood vessels and arteries causes the blockage of oxygen and blood supply needed for proper function of the heart. African Americans are at much higher risk for heart disease because of socioeconomic status, cultural habits, and poor health services.

Heredity is also a risk of heart disease among blacks. According to the American Heart and Stroke Association, 44. 8% of black men and 47. 3% of black women have cardiovascular disease. There were 46,819 deaths of black men and 49,819 deaths of black women in 2008 (Heart. org). Heart disease is preventable and can be reduced significantly if heredity plays a role as a risk factor. Awareness of heart disease in urban communities can also play an important role in persuading people to change their lifestyle habits in order to lead a healthy heart life.

Blacks at Higher Risk One of the reasons African Americans are at higher risk of getting heart disease is due to inadequate health services because of their socioeconomic status. Low income individuals and families live in areas that do not provide the same type of health services as those of their White counterpart. The same types of tests are not used for those who are receiving health services through government assisted programs as those who can afford to pay for proper health services (Center for Disease Control).

Without proper care from health providers, including informing the patient of vital information about heart disease leads to more cases of and deaths of heart disease. Another reason is that people of color tend to mistrust their health care provider because of the fact that the provider is part of a government assisted program, feeling as if the provider does not care their health (CDC). This also makes people not want to receive health services even if they are aware that they may have this problem or prone to get it. Next, cultural habits, such as diet, play a large role in getting heart disease.

Foods high in fat, sodium, and cholesterol are part of the black culture. It is these types of foods that cause atherosclerosis in blood vessels and arteries. Effects of this type of lifestyle happens gradually over time, usually showing real signs in a person’s mid to late 20’s. Lastly, the lack of knowledge and information within the low income communities leads to ignorance about heart health and disease. If more information were made available the number of incidences of cardiovascular would decrease among African Americans in urban communities.

According to Office of Minority Health in 2008, African American adults were 30% more likely to die from heart disease than their non-Hispanic white counterpart. Cultural eating habits and lack of knowledge are the number cause for these statistics being so much higher than any other culture. With persons having such strong cultural beliefs it is very difficult to break the cycle of this disease being the number one killer of blacks in the United States. Prevention and Treatments.

The greatest preventative factor in reducing cardiovascular disease among people of color is lifestyle changes. Smoking, diet and exercise can greatly reduce and prevent the chances of having poor heart health. Diets that are low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol should be gradually incorporated into the lifestyle change (Ask. com). The reason it should be gradual is because a person needs time to adjust to such a big change, as this has been a way of life all of their life. Small, gradual changes are easier to adapt than sudden, unless the condition is in need of immediate attention.

Exercise provides adequate circulation and keeps the blood flowing smoothly through the veins and arteries and supplies the heart with enough oxygen to function properly. Knowing the family medical history is a way to determine whether or not a person is a risk due to heredity and an assessment of prevention and treatment can be made from that. Physicians also need to establish clear and effective communication regarding this disease to the patient. Empowering the patient with knowledge and trust can definitely improve heart health and awareness of minorities.

Treatment options depend on the extent and severity of one’s heart disease. Lifestyle changes can also be a form a treatment if the condition is mild. Conditions that are more advanced need more evasive treatment such as medications and/or surgery. Medications that are normally given to cardiovascular patients are ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme) or beta blockers, blood thinners, such as daily aspirin therapy, diuretics to lower blood pressure, and cholesterol lowering medications, such as statins or fibrates. If medications are not enough, the patient’s physician will recommend surgical procedures to remove the blockage in the heart.

Angioplasty is a procedure where a catheter is placed in the artery of the arm or groin and threading a balloon and inflating it to reopen the artery. A stent is then placed in the artery to keep it open. A more invasive procedure is a coronary artery bypass. This procedure involves moving a vein from another part of the body, usually the leg, and is used to bypass the blocked section of the artery (Web MD, Ask. com). Treatment can range from using one of these treatment options to using all of them as treatment.

Conclusion Heart disease is the number one killer among the African American communities. Changes in lifestyle and seeking proper health services will greatly reduce the incidences cardiovascular cases and death. Providing urban communities with the tools to understanding what heart health is and how it affects them can break the cycle of this disease being the leading killer of this population. Although information is available concerning heart disease, it has to be made relatable in order for minorities to want to make changes in their lives.

Super markets in these urban areas need to have better produce and vegetables available at reasonable prices to encourage healthy eating habits. No change can be made over night, but having the right tools available will encourage gradual changes to lead to a heart smart lifestyle.

References http://www. heart. org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/Resources/WhatisCardiovascularDisease/What-is-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_301852_Articl http://www. nhlbi. nih. gov/health/health-topics/topics/hdw/treatment. htm http://www. webmd. com/heart-disease/guide/heart-disease-treatment-car http://www. cdc. gov/omhd/populations/BAA/BAA. htm.

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