By: Madison Keller
Cardiovascular disease is a condition that is heavily diagnosed within the African American community. Specifically, Cardiovascular disease in African-American women is a statistic that continues to rise. Additionally, some researchers have discovered a link between high cardiovascular disease risk and infertility (Emccready). It is important for all women, but specifically African-American women, to learn about the precautions that can be taken to reduce the risks and increase healthy stable lifestyles.
Compared to white and Hispanic women, African American women rank higher in conditions that lead to cardiovascular disease. Actually, Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the biggest contributors in death for African American women. Statistics have shown that in past years the percentage of women who had CVD surpassed white and Hispanic women: “In 2012, the prevalence of CVD in non-Hispanic African American women was 48.3%, compared with 36.4% in all women and 36.1% in non-Hispanic White women” (Braun). This percentage is alarming considering that the African American percentage is about 10% higher than all women who get diagnosed with CVD. Additionally, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia are major risk factors that lead to CVD and stroke and a lot of women are either aware that they have it but their medicine does not fully control it, or they are unaware they have it and are not taking precautions to prevent it from leading to CVD (Braun). With the other risk factors that contribute to CVD like obesity, smoking and diabetes being so common among African American women compared to other women, this risk continues to increase every year.
Not only do African American women have to be aware of their high risk of being diagnosed with Cardiovascular disease, but because of their high risk they are also at risk for infertility and in turn their infertility could also increase their risk for CVD. Many women and some men have higher risk of having CVD if there are infertile. This is due to their condition causing them to have multiple risk factors that may lead to CVD: “Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) tend to have higher rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar–all of which are risk factors for heart disease. PCOS is a hormone imbalance that can affect menstruation and ovulation. Symptoms include irregular menstruation, hair loss, acne, depression, and insulin issues. If left untreated, it can have other long-term consequences for a woman’s health” (Emccready). These symptoms paired with African American women statistically being higher in rates of obesity and diabetes contributes to their increased high risk for Cardiovascular disease. Although African American women are at higher risk, there are still ways to help lessen the probability of being diagnosed with CVD.
The number one way to reduce the risk of CVD and its risk factors is by increasing healthy lifestyle habits. 3 ways you can start to better your lifestyle include the following:
1. Eat a balanced diet. America is not known for promoting the healthiest of diets, but slowly changing the amount of carbohydrates and vegetables you eat can make a huge difference in your weight and your overall health.
2. Practice meditation and stress relief activities. Whether it be yoga, painting or just taking time out of your day to sit in silence and reflect, finding something that allows you to destress is a major way to help lower your bodies stress level from your relaxing your mind to even lowering your blood pressure.
3. Slowly increase your amount of daily exercise. This can help your heart and your body feel better and lower your risk of obesity and down the line lower your risk of CVD. Whether is be parking farther from the grocery store to help you walk a little longer or running on the treadmill and exercise that gets your heart pumping can help increase your health and decrease your risk (Emccready).
Overall, being aware of your risk, due to lifestyle habits is important, and not enough African American women recognize their risk. Cardiovascular disease is extremely common within America and globally, so being mindful and changing your lifestyle little by little can possibly save your life. It’s time to stand up and make a change in our lifestyles so we can be around for generations to come.
For more information visit the America Heart Association or Center for Disease Control’s websites.
Braun, Lynne T et al. “Cardiovascular Risk in Midlife African American Women Participating in a Lifestyle Physical Activity Program” Journal of cardiovascular nursing vol. 31,4 (2016): 304-12.
Emccready. “Heart Disease and Infertility: Understanding the Connection.” UNC Fertility, UNC Fertility , 31 Jan. 2017, uncfertility.com/fertility-blog/heart-disease-and-infertility-understanding-the-connection/.