Did You Know That Heart Disease Affects Women of Color Differently?

February is American Heart Month.

Cardiovascular disease is often dismissed as a middle-aged white man’s disease, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The risk of cardiovascular disease among women, especially women of color, is not well known, but the statistics speak for themselves. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for all women, and women of color, particularly African-American women, are at increased risk. stroke and other cardiac events than for all other groups.

In fact, 1 in 2 black women over the age of 20 already suffer from heart disease. And more than 4 in 10 black women have high blood pressure, often with salt sensitivity, presenting at a younger age than white women.

Many women don’t know they are at risk, which is why it is so important to raise awareness about what women can do to protect their cardiovascular health.

Read: Quick Facts: What Women Need to Know About Cardiovascular Disease >>

Here are 10 facts about how heart disease affects women of color that you may not know:

  1. Non-Hispanic African American women are twice as likely to have a stroke compared to non-Hispanic white women.
  2. About 4 in 10 non-Hispanic black women have high blood pressure.
  3. Black women are more likely to develop high blood pressure at a younger age compared to white women.
  4. Black people are more likely to have salt sensitivity. This means that just half a teaspoon of salt can increase blood pressure. Researchers believe this is due to an inherited genetic variant.
  5. Rates of cardiovascular disease are increasing among Native American women.
  6. One in three Native American women has three or more cardiac risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  7. Native American women and Alaska Native women have a higher risk of dying from heart disease before age 65.
  8. South Asian women have the highest rate of heart disease among Asian Americans, often without common risk factors.
  9. Hispanic women have a lower cardiovascular risk, but a higher rate of diabetes and risk of complications.
  10. Foreign-born East Asian women have the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease. The risk increases for their offspring born and raised in the United States.

Other groups of women at increased risk for cardiovascular disease include Native Americans and Alaska Natives diagnosed with diabetes, and South Asian women. Latina and foreign-born East Asian women have a lower risk of heart disease. Asian American women are at greater risk than their immigrant grandparents, although still lower than all other groups.

Many factors contribute to these statistics, including lack of access to good health care and lack of knowledge of cardiovascular disease risk factors, which puts women at higher risk of suffering a heart-related event.

Read: Social determinants of health, health disparities and health equity >>

However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. These include:

  1. Reduce your risk factors. Give up smoking; reduce sugar, fat, and sodium in your diet (the DASH diet is particularly helpful here); Exercise regularly and manage your stress.
  2. Be sure to monitor your weight and diet if you are at risk for diabetes or living with diabetes.
  3. If you have high blood pressure, be diligent about taking your medications and keeping regular appointments with your healthcare provider (HCP).
  4. Understand your family medical history. Knowing what diseases run in your family is the first step toward prevention.
  5. Make sure your doctor understands how gender, race, and ethnicity affect cardiovascular health when customizing your treatment plan.
  6. Use resources like the American Heart Association. He Association of Black Cardiologists It also offers educational information about heart disease.

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