African American women face greatest risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S., even higher than breast cancer. For women of African descent, the risk is especially great: An astounding 48 percent – nearly half – of African American women have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke.
This means that African American women are more likely to die of heart disease, and to die younger, than women from other groups.
African American women also lead other groups for several of the factors that can lead to heart disease. These include high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, and diabetes.
The good news is, many of these risk factors can be controlled through lifestyle choices. Try these easy steps to start lowering your risk today:
1. Eat better. Eat more fruits and vegetables and choose foods low in fat, sugar and sodium. Aim for no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Not sure where to start? The DASH diet is an easy-to-follow eating plan designed to lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
2. Get moving. Being physically active will help you control your weight and strengthen your heart. Try walking at moderate intensity for 10 minutes, three times a day, at least five days a week. Need help getting started? Try these tips for getting going.
3. Take your medications. If your healthcare provider has prescribed medication to control your blood pressure, it’s important to take it according to instructions. Tell your healthcare provider if the medicine makes you feel bad. Your doctor can talk with you about different ways to reduce side effects or recommend another medicine that may have fewer side effects.
4. Quit smoking. If you smoke, quitting is the very best thing you can do for your health. Smoking can damage blood vessels, raising blood pressure. It also limits how much oxygen reaches your body’s tissues, forcing the heart to work harder. Try these tips for being a quitter.
5. Ask about aspirin. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should be taking an aspirin each day to help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.