American Heart Month and Alarming Rates of Heart Disease Among African Americans

February is American Heart Month and Black History Month. In recognition of these celebratory months, it is important to highlight how heart disease disproportionately affects African American women and men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death. As stated by the American Heart Association, between 2015 and 2018, 60.1% of African American males had cardiovascular disease while 58.8% of women had cardiovascular disease. Also, between 2015 and 2018, 6.7% of African American men had coronary heart disease while 7.2% of women had coronary heart disease.

Factors that contribute to heart disease among African Americans are:

  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Obesity
  • Sleep disorders

Social and economic factors that contribute to heart disease among African Americans are:

  • High cost associated with quality care
  • Unhealthy diets
  • Higher poverty levels
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lower levels of education
  • Higher uninsured rates

How to Reduce the Risk of Developing Heart Disease

It is vital to address the disproportionate rate of heart disease among African Americans. To reduce the risk of developing heart disease, it is recommended to:

  • Get screened for high blood pressure and abnormal blood glucose levels
  • Take prescribed medicine for high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Exercise 
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Avoid smoking