Why African-Americans Are At Greater Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro

    Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.—but this is even more evident in the African-American community.


    The American Heart Association state that:


    • Compared to the general public, African-Americans have a higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and vascular dementia.
    • More than 40 percent of African-Americans have high blood pressure and are at risk for stroke, which can lead to greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s.
    • African-Americans, as a group, are at greater risk for heart disease and stroke.
    • Every year more than 100,000 African-Americans have a stroke. 

    According to the American Heart Association's, “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics,” the total cardiovascular heart disease prevalence in 2006 was:


    • 45.9% male, 45.9% female for Blacks
    • 37.8% male, 33.3% female for Whites
    • 26.1% male, 32.5% female for Mexican-Americans



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    But, why is there such a significant difference in these statistics?


    Given that fact that African-Americans tend to have higher blood pressure levels than Caucasians, this increases the risk of heart disease.


    It’s also true that African-Americans tend to have a much higher risk of disability and death from a stroke than Caucasians, partly due to high blood pressure as mentioned, and also because of higher rates of diabetes, which causes complications.


    To clarify, the major modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:


    • Having high blood pressure
    • Having high blood cholesterol
    • Smoking cigarettes
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Being physically inactive 
    • Having type 2 diabetes
    • Some other factors to note include high stress levels and drinking too much alcohol


    What needs to be realized is that these conditions, and their resulting complications do need have to be a way of life for African-Americans—heart disease is not necessarily an inevitable outcome for you.


    Perhaps you have a family history of heart problems, if you already know you have an elevated risk, one of the most important things you can do is to visit your doctor at least once each year for a general health check-up.


    Over the next few weeks I’ll be focusing on specific ways to reduce your risk of suffering heart disease complications, including looking at what you can do right now to lesson these complications, and also taking a look at diet and exercise, etc, so stay tuned!


    Don't forget to drop me a line with any queries or concerns and I'll try to answer them promptly!


    Do you struggle with healthy eating or weight loss? Get your free ebook on how to break bad habits by visiting the award winning Dietriffic.com. Authored by registered dietitian, Melanie Thomassian.


Published On: August 24, 2009