Every year, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans suffer more than 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes. Nearly 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke. But you can reduce your risk and improve your heart health by following the ABCS:
• A – Take aspirin as directed by your health care provider.
• B – Control your blood pressure.
• C – Manage your cholesterol.
•S – Don’t smoke.
A: Take aspirin as directed by your health care provider. Ask your health care provider if aspirin can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Be sure to tell your health care provider if you have a family medical history of heart disease or stroke.
B: Control your blood pressure. Blood pressure measures the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. If your blood pressure stays high, you may suffer from high blood pressure, also called hypertension. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke more than any other risk factor. African Americans are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to have high blood pressure and to develop the condition earlier in life. To keep your blood pressure under control, find out what your blood pressure numbers are, and ask your health care provider what those numbers mean for your health. If you have high blood pressure, work with your health care provider to lower it.
C: Manage your cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver and is found in certain foods. Your body needs cholesterol, but when you have too much it can build up in your arteries and cause heart disease. There are different types of cholesterol. One type is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, that can protect you from heart disease. Another type is low-density-lipoprotein (LDL), known as bad cholesterol, that can increase your risk of heart disease. Talk to your health care provider about cholesterol and how to lower your bad cholesterol if it is too high.
S: Don’t smoke. About one of five African American adults smokes cigarettes. If you smoke, quit. Talk with your health care provider about ways to help you stick with your decision. It is never too late to quit smoking. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW today or visit smokefree.gov.