African-Americans are at Higher Risk for Heart Problems, Says Dr. Elizabeth Ofili

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    The holiday season is a time for friends, celebration, and great food. Although the sweets and treats are abundant, it might be more important for African-Americans to monitor their food choices at the Christmas dinner table for the health of their heart.

    As reported by Fox 4 News, African-Americans are at a higher risk for developing heart disease or heart failure than any other racial or ethnic group. The article states they are 20 times more likely than Caucasians to suffer from heart failure before the age of 50.

    Even past the holiday season, physicians are urging African-Americans to limit the amount of fatty, cholesterol-filled foods for their own health and safety. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity and chronic kidney disease are all common in African-Americans, and can have fatal consequences.

    An article from abcardio.com states that the prevalence of hypertension in African-Americans is among the highest in the world.

    So what’s to blame for this increased risk in heart failure? Poor diet and lifestyle habits are partially the problem, but Dr. Elizabeth Ofili highlights some physiological differences in African-Americans that might allude to the real issue.

    The natural history of heart failure traces back to biological differences in blacks and whites, which causes blacks to be more vulnerable to heart disease. According to American Heart Association statistics, “the annual incidence of heart failure in whites is approximately 6 per 1,000 person years, while in African Americans it is 9.1 per 1,000 person-years”.

    Although there are certain biological factors that cannot be dismissed, Dr. Ofili’s takeaway message is this: you must start making more conscious health choices to lower the risk of heart failure. The holiday season and the new year are opportune times to make lifestyle changes.

    Aside from diet changes, incorporating fun and new ways to exercise is important to balancing a healthy lifestyle. Try something adventurous instead of lifting weights in the gym; for instance, 73% of people who tried something wild and unconventional like stand up paddle boarding loved it and now use it as their main form of exercise.

    The key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is choosing activities that work best for you.