Heart matters

Heart disease has the highest death rate in the black community.

Statistics show heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure) combined to be the number one killer of blacks, according to the American Medical Association. Blacks are three times as likely to die of heart disease than whites.

“High blood pressure is the most prevalent factor for blacks,” Julian said. “High blood pressure can be caused by stress levels or [what] African Americans eat.”

Heart disease, as described by Casey Julian of Tallahassee’s American Heart Association, is the coronary arteries becoming narrowed or clogged. Once this happens, there is not enough blood supplied to the heart.

Heart disease is also caused by arteriosclerosis (thickening of the inside walls of the arteries).

Julian, the health initiative director for the Panhandle, said arteriosclerosis occurs when a person has high blood pressure.

Contributing factors to heart disease for blacks consist of their diets and the lack of education concerning health issues in their community, Julian said.

Blacks don’t talk about heart disease and high blood pressure, according to Julian.

She added blacks lack access to information resources that would educate them about the diseases.

“I didn’t know much about heart disease,” said Antonio Higgins, a freshman education student from Mobile, Ala.

“No one ever really talked about it around my house because no one had any real issues with it. But I know that it is something I need to learn about because it effects my race.”

According to the American Heart Association, blacks tend to eat foods higher in fat and cholesterol; thus causing heart disease as a death toll for blacks.

The highest peak for most heart problems or deaths are between the ages of 55-65 for men and 55-75 for black women said Julian.

Keisha Joseph, a sophomore psychology student from Atlanta said, “It is crucial for students to learn about the risks [heart disease] especially if it runs in the family.”

While in college, students are advised to take advantage of the health education opportunities presented to them.

“College students are getting education about many things including health issues,” Julian said. “It’s important they teach others who don’t have that education about heart disease to help decrease the death rate among blacks.”