Sunday, November 19, 2017


What’s Killing You Sista?

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(ThySistas.com) What is the number one cause of death in the African American community of women? Heart disease. In 2013, heart disease accounted for 23.8% of deaths in both the non-Hispanic black populations. On the other hand, cancer accounted for 22.5% of deaths. Heart disease may be the leading cause of death, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it as your fate. Although some risk factors are beyond your control such as family history, sex or age; there are some key heart disease prevention steps you can take to reduce your risk. You can avoid heart problems in the future by adopting a healthy lifestyle today. Here are seven heart disease prevention tips to get you started:

1. Don’t smoke or use tobacco

Women who smoke and take birth control pills are at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke than are those who don’t smoke or take birth control pills, because both can increase the risk of blood clots. Smoking or using tobacco of any kind is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack.

2. Exercise for about 30 minutes on most days of the week22blacksistas

Getting some regular, daily exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease. In general, you should do moderate exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace, for about 30 minutes on most days of the week. That can help you reach the Department of Health and Human Services recommendations of 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. For even more health benefits, aim for 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week. In addition, aim to do strength training exercises two or more days a week. Activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs and walking the dog all count toward progress. You don’t have to exercise strenuously to achieve benefits, but you can see bigger benefits by increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts.

3. Eat a heart-healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Two examples of heart-healthy food plans include the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan and the Mediterranean diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help protect your heart. Aim to eat beans, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean meats, and fish as part of a healthy diet. Avoid too much salt and sugars in your diet. Following a heart-healthy diet also means keeping an eye on how much alcohol you drink. If you choose to drink alcohol, it’s better for your heart to do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. One drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters, or mL) of beer, 5 ounces of wine (148 mL), or 1.5 fluid ounces (44mL) of 80-proof distilled spirits. At that moderate level, alcohol may have a protective effect on your heart. Too much alcohol can become a health hazard.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight, especially if you carry excess weight around your middle increases your risk of heart disease. Excess weight can lead to conditions that increase your chances of heart disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome a combination of fat around your abdomen, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high triglycerides also increases the risk of heart disease.

One way to see if your weight is healthy is to calculate your body mass index (BMI), which considers your height and weight in determining whether you have a healthy or unhealthy percentage of body fat. BMI numbers 25 and higher are generally associated with higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The BMI is a good, but imperfect guide. Muscle weighs more than fat, for instance, and women and men who are very muscular and physically fit can have high BMIs without added health risks. Because of that, waist circumference also can be a useful tool to measure how much abdominal fat you have:

  • Men are generally considered overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (101.6 centimeters, or cm).
  • Women are generally overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (88.9 cm).

Even a small weight loss can be beneficial. Reducing your weight by just 3 to 5 percent can help decrease your triglycerides and blood sugar (glucose), and reduce your risk of diabetes. Losing even more weight can help lower your blood pressure and blood cholesterol level.

5. Get enough quality sleep

Sleep deprivation can do more than leave you yawning throughout the day; it can harm your health. People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you wake up without your alarm clock and you feel refreshed, you’re getting enough sleep. But, if you’re constantly reaching for the snooze button and it’s a struggle to get out of bed, you need more sleep each night. Make sleep a priority in your life. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it by going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet, so it’s easier to sleep. If you feel like you’ve been getting enough sleep, but you’re still tired throughout the day, ask your doctor if you need to be evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea.

6. Manage stress

Some people cope with stress in unhealthy ways such as overeating, drinking or smoking. Finding alternative ways to manage stress such as physical activity, relaxation exercises or meditation can help improve your health.

7. Get regular health screenings

High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. But without testing for them, you probably won’t know whether you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action. The following are the most important:

Blood pressure. Regular blood pressure screenings usually start in childhood. You should have a blood pressure test performed at least once every two years to screen for high blood pressure as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, starting at age 18.

Cholesterol levels. Adults should generally have their cholesterol measured at least once every five years starting at age 18. Earlier testing may be recommended if you have other risk factors, such as a family history of early-onset heart disease.

Diabetes screening. Since diabetes is a risk factor for developing heart disease, you may want to consider being screened for diabetes. Talk to your doctor about when you should have a fasting blood sugar test or hemoglobin A1C test to check for diabetes.

What is the number one cause of death in the African American community of women? Heart disease.

Staff Writer; Amber Ogden

One may also view more of her work over at; AmberOgden.com.

Also connect via Instagram; 1amberogden and Twitter; MsAmberOgden.


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