by Dominique Boyette
February is American Heart Month and it’s time to check in with yours.
The heart is a miraculous and powerful muscle.
According to The Heart Foundation: “High blood pressure means your heart is pumping harder than it should. High blood pressure puts your arteries under constant stress and speeds up arteriosclerosis, a condition that makes your arteries get harder, narrower, and clogged with fatty plaque. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans is the highest in the world. Not only is high blood pressure more severe in blacks than whites, it also develops earlier in life.
High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer, as the heart can become permanently damaged before any symptoms are apparent. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected and controlled through medications, a healthy diet and exercise. ”
It’s a silent killer for a reason.
Our ability to live with and suffer through pain are what allow us to be unknowingly living with dangerously high blood pressure and to be living at risk where our health could change in an instant.
At any moment a blood vessel could burst, give out, become clogged, we are always one beat away from a change.
The CDC reports it claims more women’s lives than all forms of cancer combined, with Black women having the highest death rates of all racial and ethnic groups. “About 2 out of every 5 African American adults have high blood pressure, and less than half of them have it under control. African American adults are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension), heart attacks, and stroke deaths than white adults. Individuals living below the federal poverty level are more likely to have high blood pressure compared with those living at the highest level of income.”
It seems that access and hesitancy to seeking help or treatment are the key factors in our numbers for hypertension and heart risk being so high.
Some factors like salt sensitivity, and other “potential confounders, including race/ethnicity, age, sex, education, insurance status, financial status, general health status, functional status, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, smoking status, physical activity, and sodium, fiber, alcohol, and total daily calorie intake” are what keep the BIPOC community at a greater risk for heart disease and hypertension than anyone else.
While the health disparities we are often casualties of are caused by systemic racism, we can take control. Urban Health Group LLC provides opportunity for health equity, and while we are here to advocate for your treatments and help you navigate through the healthcare system, there are simple steps we all need to take to make sure that the risks the system deems inevitable, changes to the preventable.
We can empower ourselves and adjust habit to make the risks could be far more manageable. We can counter some of the risk factors.
One major element is salt.
We know it, we hear it, AND WE WILL SAY IT AGAIN!
Watch the salt intake.
If the salt is already in the food, we don’t need more. Personally I love salt, I cook everyday, and as a test for myself I’ve been purposefully omitting it from every meal to see if I can actually taste the difference. I can’t.
More than anything, not adding salt showed me how frequently and unnecessarily add it to my meals. It made me think of the difference it could make on my family living with high blood pressure now.
Not a lesson on how to eat, but encouragement for us to eat more diversely and have faith and fun in the flavors of our cultures without leaning so heavily on salt. It is very easy to forget how much salt is already present in processed foods we’re cooking with. Holding back on adding more to our foods before tasting could have an increasing beneficial effect on us long term.
Here is a nutritional guide on how we can reevaluate our plates:
WE ARE NOT HELPLESS OR HOPELESS. There are things within our control that we can start doing today!
A little bit of movement everyday, small adjustments like the DASH DIET, has proven to make long lasting positive effects on our health and heart. Average life expectancy in the U.S. is about 80 years of age, that translates to over 3 BILLION heart beats!!!
Take your health and heart into your own hands, it will thank you with a lifetime.
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10 Interesting Facts About The Human Hearthttps://www.flushinghospital.org/
Celebrate American Heart Month with Go Red for Women
Heart Disease: It Can Happen at Any Age
Why Do Black Americans Have Higher Prevalence of Hypertension?
AFRICAN AMERICANS AND HEART DISEASE
High Blood Pressure in African-Americans
High Blood Pressure in African-Americans
Nutrition and healthy eatinghttps://www.mayoclinic.orgWhat Breakfast Looks Like in 50 Countrieshttps://www.thedailymeal.com/
HEART BEATS PER LIFETIME