Cardiovascular Disease in African-American Women

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Cardiogram pulse trace and heart concept for cardiovascular medical exam

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), as of April, 2014, nearly 48% of African-American women have some form of cardiovascular disease.  While heart disease is the number one killer of all women, regardless of race, statistics show that black women suffer twice the death rate than that of white women. The question is:  why?

Research has shown that there may be a gene among African-Americans that causes a sensitivity to salt.  A mere extra half teaspoon of salt can raise your blood pressure.

A contributing factor for black women at risk is socioeconomic status (SES).  Black women with a low SES are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease than those of their peers with a higher SES.  If you fall into this category, you are more likely to suffer from chronic stress and depression due to discrimination and living and working in a poor environment.

Additionally, women of all races tend to experience a different set of symptoms during a heart attack than men do.  Most people associate crushing chest pain with a heart attack, however, women often have a different type of pain and some have no pain at all.  As a woman, you are more likely to experience one or more of the symptoms listed below instead:

  • Chest pain that is sharp and/or temporary
  • Arm, back or stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained fatigue, weakness or anxiety
  • Cold sweat
  • Palpitations

The NHLBI, part of the National Institutes of Health, has created the The Heart Truth program, which works with both community and national organizations to raise awareness and provide education to women.

Another program raising awareness is The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women.  They campaign during National Heart Month every February, in addition to posting informative articles all year long. Read ‘African-American Risk Detection Increases.

The internet has a wealth of information to help you reduce your risk.  Help save a life and pass it on!


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