Heart Disease in the African American Culture

Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. There are many factors that contribute to the causes of heart disease. Within these factors there are two categories, which are factors you cannot change and those that you can. Some of these factors you cannot change consist of increasing age, over 83 percent of people who die of coronary disease are age 65 and older, gender is another factor you cannot change, men have a greater risk of heart attacks and have them younger than women do.

Heredity is a huge factor when it comes to heart disease children who have parents that have suffered from heart attacks are more likely to develop heart disease themselves. Previous heart attacks can also raise a persons risk for future problems. The heart attack risk factors that people are able to change are physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, obesity and being overweight, high blood pressure and cholesterol and also diabetes. People who smoke cigarettes are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure can be changed by increasing physical activity and losing weight.

Stress is also a factor that can raise blood pressure and put a person at a higher risk for heart disease. Diabetes can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, eating right and being physically active. There is a type of diabetes that is hereditary and if a person is diagnosed with it there is really not a way to change it but it can be controlled with medications. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. Coronary Heart Disease is caused by a combination of fatty material, scar tissue (plaque) and calcium build up in the arteries.

This causes the blood flow to be restricted so that the heart does not get enough blood flow and oxygen. Like any muscle the heart needs oxygen and a constant supply of nutrients that are carried to it through arteries, when the coronary arteries become narrow and blocked the heart is not getting the proper amount of oxygen and nutrients that it needs to function properly. The lack of blood flow causes chest pain or angina, and a complete block of blood flow will cause a heart attack.

When the blood supply is completely cut off a heart attack occurs and when the tissue does not have adequate blood flow the tissue will die and this can cause permanent damage to the heart. African Americans have the highest percentage in mortality rates when it comes to heart disease. Heart and blood vessel disease claim the lives of over 104,000 blacks every year. African Americans are least likely to be diagnosed with heart disease. Nearly 4 out of 10 black adults has heart disease.


Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack, another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks have another attack. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Blacks in the United States. African Americans are more prone to high blood pressure and being overweight. The reason that African Americans are more prone to high blood pressure is because there is a larger percentage of blacks who are overweight and who smoke which puts them at a higher risk. African Americans have not had the full benefit of the research for cardiovascular disease due to the limited access to health care available.

There is also a lack of scientific data when it comes to minorities due to a lack of research activities focused on minority groups. The best weapon to combat heart disease for any race is education, knowing the signs and symptoms and knowing your numbers and risk level will help to prevent a heart attack. The most important thing for any person to do is to monitor their blood pressure and cholesterol, by knowing where they stand in these aspects they are able to monitor their risks for heart disease better.

Some other recommendations to prevent heart disease are to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, try to get at least 7 hours of sleep, drink more water, at least 6 tall glasses a day, and know the symptoms of a heart attack. Some of the signs of a heart attack are an uncomfortable pressure squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach can be signs, as well as shortness of breath, cold sweat, or lightheadedness can also be warning signs of a heart attack.

Overall there is still a large amount of research that need to be conducted to realize the reasons that heart disease is so much more prevalent in different races. Education is key to many different diseases and as long as people are able to realize the risk factors and how they can prevent some of the risks in their lives. A healthy lifestyle will help prevent many different diseases, and will ultimately help prolong lives regardless of race.

REFERENCES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Heart Disease Facts.

Retrieved from http://www. cdc. gov/heartdisease/facts. htm US Department of Health and Human Services. (2009). Heart Disease and African Americans. Retrieved from http://minorityhealth. hhs. gov/templates/content. aspx? ID=3018 Holloway, L. (2005). HEART DISEASE: THE NO. 1 KILLER OF BLACKS. Ebony, 60(4), 146. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database American Heart Association. (2006). Heart Disease, Stroke and African Americans. Retrieved from http://www. americanheart. org/downloadable/heart/1157061665970SYH_HDStrk_Repros. pdf.

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 …

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