4 Deadly Diseases That Kill Blacks Disproportionately: How to Beat the Odds

Cardiovascular Disease

How deadly is this disease?

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death of black Americans. Forty percent of all blacks who die each year die from cardiovascular disease.

The American Heart Association reports that 40 percent of black adults have cardiovascular disease, and while it strikes both black men, it is especially deadly for black women. One half of all deaths annually of black women are caused by a cardiovascular ailment.

Among the scores of famous blacks who have died of cardiovascular events, many did not live to be 60 years old:

Luther Vandross (54) , Heavy D (44) Patrice O’Neal (41), Yolanda King (51), Anderson Jones (38), Reggie White (43), Barry White (59), Richard Biggs (44), Harold Melvin (57), Grover Washington Jr. (56), Fred “Rerun” Berry (52), Ronald Winans (48), Lynn Thigpen (54), Kevin Duckworth (44).

What is cardiovascular disease?

The term “cardiovascular disease” describes a host of specific illnesses that includes heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, congenital heart defects, hardening of the arteries and other diseases of the circulatory system.

What causes cardiovascular disease?

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Family history of cardiovascular disease

What are the symptoms?

  • Chest pain or chest discomfort
  • Pain in one or both arms, the left shoulder, neck, jaw, or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeats
  • Nausea
  • Abnormal heartbeats
  • Feeling very tired
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, difficulty walking, or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Pain, ache, or cramp in the muscles during exercise that improves with rest.
  • Cold or numb feeling in the feet or toes, especially at night.

How can I avoid cardiovascular disease?

The good news is most of the factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease are completely within your control:

  • Eat healthy, low-fat, moderate-carb, nutrient-rich meals
  • Avoid unhealthy snacking
  • Do not smoke cigarettes
  • Exercise daily
  • Drink plenty of water

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