5 Ways Minorities Can Avoid Falling Victim to Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans, and it impacts a disproportionately high number of minorities. There are many factors that contribute to this disparity including culture, income, education, genetics, access to care and communication barriers.
According to the American Heart Association:
- African-Americans have a 33 percent higher death rate from cardiovascular disease than any other group.
- African-Americans are twice as likely to have a stroke than Caucasians.
- Native Americans are much more likely to die early from heart disease. 36 percent will die of heart disease before the age of 65 as opposed to 17 percent of the overall U.S. population.
- African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives have a much higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes than Caucasians.
- African-American and Mexican-American women have a much higher rate of obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, than Caucasian women.
With the proper diet and exercise, everyone, regardless of ethnicity, can reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Here’s how:
- Reduce bad foods. Choose foods that have no or low levels of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Saturated and trans fats are in fatty beef, pork, poultry with skin, lard, butter and dairy products made with whole milk. Sodium comes from the amount of salt in your food.
- Eat heart-healthy foods such as fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds. Eat the leanest cuts of meat you can find or have meals without meat. Drink beverages without added sugar.
- Stay physically active. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, or 75 minutes of intense physical activity, such as jogging or running, every week.
- Strengthen yourmuscles. Do muscle strengthening exercises that work all major muscle groups at least two days a week. This includes back muscles, legs, hips, chest, shoulders and arms.
- Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake.
Parents can also help reduce the risk for their children by encouraging 60 minutes of activity each day.
It is important to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Receiving treatment as quickly as possible greatly increases chances for positive outcomes.
About the Author
Tiffany Randolph, MD is a cardiologist at Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare at Church Street