Give Your Heart Some Love This February
Many people associate February with two main observances: Black History Month and Valentine’s Day. But did you know that February is also American Heart Month? It’s essential to keep your heart healthy, and this is especially true for African Americans, who are at greater risk of heart disease and related concerns than other groups. Here’s what Black individuals should know about heart health—and how you can give some love to your heart and community this month.
Greater Heart Health Concerns for African Americans
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among all Americans, but African Americans are 30% more likely to die from a heart condition than non-Hispanic Whites. Here’s what you should know about risk factors for heart disease in Black patients:
- Systemic barriers to high-quality healthcare. Black Americans are more likely than Whites to be uninsured or underinsured, and out-of-pocket costs can make even routine preventive medicine unaffordable. Racial bias in healthcare providers often results in missed screenings and underdiagnosed health concerns among Black patients. In addition, African Americans are more likely to live in medical deserts, or underinvested communities lacking adequate medical centers and care providers.
- Chronic socioeconomic stressors. Environmental factors related to work/life balance, income, neighborhood safety, and the lack of key geographical amenities like full-service grocery stores can also be significantly detrimental to the health of Black Americans. The poor diet, long work hours, and chronic stress that stem from these can increase the chances of obesity as well as cardiovascular and heart disease.
- Cascading health risk factors. African Americans are disproportionately prone to obesity and are twice as likely as White individuals to have Type 2 diabetes. Both conditions can quickly lead to high cholesterol and blood pressure, which in turn raise the risk of heart disease. The likelihood of developing heart disease is also greater if your family members have a history of heart conditions, so find out if you’re at risk and get screened for these early.
National Heart Month is an opportunity to educate yourself and others about the risk factors and warning signs of heart disease and take action to address its disproportionate impact on Black communities. Because Heart Month coincides with Black History Month, it’s an excellent time to learn about other health inequities that Black populations face and support efforts to improve medical and wellness outcomes for these communities.
A Good Prescription for the Health of Black Americans
The African American Wellness Project (AAWP) was formed in 2002 to respond to inequities in the healthcare delivery system and is dedicated to health equity and better health outcomes for people of color. African Americans suffer from health conditions at a disproportionately higher rate than other ethnic groups, and we believe these health disparities will continue to exist if we don’t take action.
AAWP serves as a trusted megaphone and provides culturally relevant tools, resources, information, and programming that encourage African Americans to advocate for themselves and protect their health, regardless of insurance status or other circumstances.
Check out our website, follow us on social media, consider making a donation, and join us in our important mission!