Why African Americans Are 20x More Likely To Have Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer in America. It affects African Americans more than members of any other race or ethnic background. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have some form of cardiovascular disease, putting them at a far greater risk for heart disease and stroke than Caucasians. In fact, in African Americans under the age of 50,  the heart failure rate is 20 times higher than that of any other race. There are multiple factors that contribute to heart disease, with

Heart disease is higher among African Americans than any other race.
Heart disease is higher among African Americans than any other race.

high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) being the largest factor. Weight, dietary practices and smoking can also contribute. However, there are ways to combat these factors, and lower your risk of developing heart disease, or beat it if you are already struggling with this silent killer.

High Blood Pressure

According to a 2009 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, African Americans are more likely to have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, than members of any other race. The risk is especially high in African American women. The American Heart Association theorizes that high blood pressure develops early in life for African Americans due to their genetic makeup, and salt sensitivity. This raises the chance of having a stroke. Because high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death, it is important to learn ways to lower your blood pressure and keep it under control. Whether high blood pressure  runs in your family or not, find out what your numbers are and check them often. The more regularly you check your blood pressure, the greater your chance of learning how to control it. Report your numbers to your doctor so they can be aware of the changes as well.

Obesity & High Cholesterol

Another risk factor for developing heart disease is obesity, and African-American women are 80% more likely to be overweight or obese, than any other groups in the U.S. Being overweight increases your chances of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease; the more weight you carry, the more oxygen your body needs to move around the excess tissue, which means your heart needs to work harder and will be put under stress.  Some strategies for controlling your weight include drinking plenty of water to feel more full, and opting for lean meats such as chicken instead of beef. Vegetables and fruits should be added to every meal as well. Exercise plays a key role in burning calories and strengthening your heart, so it is important to make moving your body a daily habit. Start slowly with gentle activities such as walking for half an hour everyday.


African Americans are also 77% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, a disease which can play a significant role in developing heart disease. High levels of glucose (or hyperglycemia, a defining characteristics of diabetes) narrow and harden the arteries, thus making it harder for blood to flow to and from your heart and, again, causing stress to your heart. Diabetes is, however, treatable and preventable as long as you are aware of the causes and work at managing it if you do develop it. Staying away from sugar and high-carb foods will help  keep your insulin 

Smoking increases your chances of developing heart disease.
Smoking increases your chances of developing heart disease.

levels down.


The CDC has found that 1 in 5 African American adults smoke cigarettes, a practice which increases the chance of developing heart disease. It is no secret that smoking is not good for you, and it can be hard to quit once you begin, but it  is never too late to stop smoking. Seek help from your doctor, as well as family or friends to help you quit. Quitting will significantly lower your risk of heart disease

While your racial or ethnic background may mean a greater chances of developing  heart disease, lifestyle choices play a bigger role. In order to reduce your risk, it is important to take care of yourself and stay healthy. Stay on top of your blood pressure numbers, and take the necessary medications to keep it regulated. A healthy diet is key to keeping your heart healthy, so make sure you eat foods low in sodium, and limit sugary snacks or foods. Avoiding heart disease is possible as long as you take care of yourself, as healthier lifestyle changes can go a long way  in reducing your risk.

Is It Too Late To Quit Smoking?

Many people, especially older people think to themselves “why should I stop smoking? It has already been so long, why quit now.” A lot of times, seniors will think that it is too late to quit smoking, but it is actually the opposite. There are many benefits and reasons to stop smoking, even in your 60’s. Research has shown that seniors who quit smoking lowered their chances of dying.

It is never too late to quit smoking.
Seniors are known to smoke more cigarettes with a higher nicotine content than newer smokers.

Cigarette smoking leads to about 30% of cancer deaths in the U.S. According to the CDC, more than 16 million Americans have a disease caused by smoking, and that smokers die on average 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

Did you know that people who quit smoking get colds and flus less than those who still smoke? You also reduce your risk of a heart attack, stroke, chronic lung disease, and cancer when you quit smoking. Smoking has been linked as a major risk factor in 6 out of 14 causes of death.

Research shows that older smokers tend to smoke more than younger ones, and the cigarettes they do smoke contain higher nicotine. The studies also show that people who quit within their 60’s reduced their risk of death by 23%. This may not seem like a lot, but as we age and get older, the more susceptible we are to getting sick, hurt, or dying. A 23% chance to continue living is better than nothing.

While the best solution is to never begin smoking, there are just as many benefits to stopping. It only takes 20 minutes from the moment you decide to stop smoking, to feel better because your blood pressure immediately starts to drop. Within 12 hours, you will feel as if you can breathe a little better since the carbon monoxide levels in your body drop back to normal. The health benefits and good feelings only intensify within the next few weeks when your levels return to near pre-smoking levels.

The number of cigarettes the average smokers smokes increases as they age.
It is never too late to quit smoking.

Quitting smoking can be hard at times, and many smokers have tried to quit multiple times in their life. There is no doubt that there will be challenges, but there are some things you can do to quit. Voice your decision to your doctor and they can suggest the different options that can help you to quit. There are local programs you can go to for support, and you can seek nicotine replacement packs or medication.

Some people smoke out of habit, while others do it to destress. Take up a hobby or new activity to replace smoking and relieve stress. Yoga and other forms of exercise may help you find peace and take your mind off what is going on, plus you get the added benefits of exercising!

We all have our flaws where we say we will start to do better for ourselves tomorrow, or next week, or the beginning of the month. But there is not better moment than right now to quit smoking.