This month we celebrate both Black History Month and American Heart Month. Did you know that Black Americans have a higher risk of developing heart disease than non-Hispanic whites and other ethnic groups?(1) About half of all Americans have at least 1 out of 3 risk factors for heart disease.(2) Risk factors and lifestyle factors that can increase your risk for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, age, family history, diabetes, obesity, a diet high in saturated and trans fats, too little exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption.(2)
You can help prevent heart disease by knowing what risk factors you have; eating a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lean protein; get in 150 minutes per week of physical activity; do not smoke or stop smoking; manage your weight; and manage other health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.(3,4) You can check your risk with this online calculator from the American Heart Association. Check. Change. Control. Calculator(TM) https://ccccalculator.ccctracker.com/
1. Der Ananian C, Winham D, Thompson S, Tisue M. Perceptions of heart-healthy behaviors among African American adults: a mixed methods study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Nov; 15(11): 2433. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6265893/
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Know your risk for heart disease. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm#:~:text=About%20half%20of%20all%20Americans,%2C%20high%20cholesterol%2C%20and%20smoking.&text=Some%20risk%20factors%20for%20heart,the%20factors%20you%20can%20control. Accessed on January 31, 2022.
3. American Heart Association website. Prevent heart disease and stroke. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/prevent-heart-disease-and-stroke. Accessed on January 31, 2022.
4. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health website. The nutrition source: preventing heart disease. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/cardiovascular-disease/preventing-cvd/. Accessed on January 31, 2022.