More blacks battling against heart disease

Heart disease kills – and it is killing more blacks than any other race.

According to statistics from the American Heart Association, of blacks age 20 and older, 41.6 percent of men and 46.6 percent of women have high blood pressure.

Blacks living in the United States have the highest number of cases of high blood pressure in the entire world. February is not only Black History month, but it is also Heart Month.

According to the Center for Disease Control, blacks have a greater chance of having heart disease than any other race. Black women have even a broader possibility of having heart disease.

“More women than men die of cardiovascular disease, it is the No. 1 killer of women”, said Jay Schleuning, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association.

According to Schleuning, women are far less likely to get diagnosed with heart disease.

In a press release from the American Heart Association, Lori Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said “African-American and Hispanic women have higher prevalence rates of high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome than white women, yet they are less likely than white women to know that being overweight, smoking, physical inactivity, high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease increase their heart disease risks.”

Mosca said that even though awareness among blacks still lags behind whites, they have made substantial gains.

But statistics can change.

“The percentage of heart problems in the black community can go down,” said Monique Potter, health educator at the FAMU Student Health Services.

According to Potter, who was a nurse several years before becoming an educator, said stress, not eating right, and not knowing the importance of maintaining heart health, is the No. 1 cause of all of the heart problems seen in the black community.

Potter also said black people have a mentality programmed to try and do it all.

“What we need to do is to take some time out for ourselves some times to ease stress. We need to understand that it is a leading cause of death for our people and we have to start doing something about it,” Potter said.

A good place to start that change is in exercise and eating habits.

“Watching your diet and doing cardio exercise for three to five days a week for 45 minutes will significantly change your health,” said Yero Smith, a personal trainer at the FAMU Recreation Center.

Smith said that any cardiovascular exercise such as jogging, swimming and walking would decrease any damage done to the heart by unhealthy eating and a lack of exercise. The more exercise done, the more oxygenated blood gets circulated in the body and thus cleaning out arteries.

Smith suggests replacing fatty snacks with vegetables, increasing the amount of water intake, include dark leafy vegetables in diet and lower the amount of carbohydrates consumed.

For more information on heart disease visit This Web site offers suggestions on how to lower cholesterol, and also offers information on heart disease.

Contact Kisha Wilkinson at