What African Americans should know about heart health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and data shows that African Americans are at a higher risk for heart disease than members of other racial groups.

The main reason for this is hypertension, or high blood pressure. About two out of every five African American adults have high blood pressure, and fewer than half have it under control.

Other factors that increase your risk of heart disease are obesity and diabetes – two conditions that also have higher rates in the African American community.

Here are some lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk factors for heart disease:

  • Eat a heart healthy diet low in salt and sugar.
  • Exercise regularly. You should get 20 to 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week.
  • Don’t smoke, or if you do, quit – here’s how.
  • Know your numbers. Track your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.
  • Know your family health history. If others in your family have had heart disease, you may be at a higher risk.

Work with your doctor to manage your numbers through lifestyle changes and, if needed, medication. If you have questions, talk to your nurses, doctors and pharmacists – they can all help you achieve your health goals.


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