February is american heart month.
Cardiovascular disease is often dismissed as a disease of middle-aged white men, but this is far from the truth. The risk of cardiovascular disease for women, especially women of color, is poorly understood, but the statistics speak for themselves. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for all women, and women of color, especially African American women, are at higher risk for heart disease. stroke other cardiac events than all other groups.
In fact, one in two black women over the age of 20 already has heart disease. Additionally, more than 4 out of 10 black women have high blood pressure, which is often associated with salt sensitivity and develops at an earlier age than white women.
Many women are unaware that they are at risk. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness about what women can do to protect their cardiovascular health.
Read: Fast facts: What women need to know about cardiovascular disease >>
Here are 10 facts you may not know about how heart disease affects women of color.
- Non-Hispanic African American women are twice as likely to have a stroke than non-Hispanic white women.
- About 4 in 10 non-Hispanic black women have high blood pressure.
- Black women are more likely to develop high blood pressure at a younger age than white women.
- Black people are more likely to have salt sensitivity. This means that even half a teaspoon of salt can increase blood pressure. Researchers believe this is due to genetic variation.
- The prevalence of cardiovascular disease among Native American women is increasing.
- One in three Native American women has three or more cardiac risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- American Indian women and Alaska Native women have an increased risk of dying from heart disease before age 65.
- South Asian women have the highest rate of heart disease among Asian Americans and often lack common risk factors.
- Hispanic women have a lower cardiovascular risk but a higher risk of diabetes incidence and complications.
- Foreign-born East Asian women have the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease. Their descendants born and raised in the United States are at increased risk.
Other groups of women at increased risk for cardiovascular disease include American Indian, Alaska Native, and South Asian women who have been diagnosed with diabetes. Latina Americans and foreign women born in East Asia have a lower risk of heart disease. Asian American women are at higher risk than their immigrant grandparents, but still lower than all other groups.
Many factors contribute to these statistics, including lack of access to appropriate medical care and lack of knowledge about cardiovascular disease risk factors that put women at risk for heart-related events.
Read: Social Determinants of Health, Health Disparities, Health Equity >>
However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. These include:
- Reduce risk factors. Quit smoking; reduce sugar, fat, and sodium in your diet (the DASH diet is especially helpful here). Exercise regularly and manage your stress.
- If you’re at risk for or living with diabetes, try to manage your weight and diet.
- If you have high blood pressure, take your medication and see your health care provider (HCP) regularly.
- Understand your family’s medical history. Knowing what kind of disease your family has is the first step to prevention.
- When personalizing your treatment plan, make sure your healthcare provider understands how gender, race, and ethnicity affect cardiovascular health.
- Take advantage of resources like the American Heart Association.of Association of Black Cardiologists We also provide educational information about heart disease.
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