Abstract This paper introduces a new approach understanding about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in African Americans, to improve self-efficacy for diet and physical activity, and to increase intentions to eat healthier and be physically active. This paper examines the effects of risks associated with being an African American with cardiovascular disease. These changes in behavioral, educational and physical activity may reverse the effects of cardiovascular disease.
Providing education about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease can offer a reduction in early death amongst young African American men. African Americans and Cardiovascular Disease Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a term used to describe diseases of the heart and blood vessels, in which the blood vessels are blocked and leads to various forms of CVD such as stroke, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis, and congenital heart defects.Order now
According to the American Heart Association (2009), more Americans die from CVD than any other disease and African Americans are at a greater risk for the disease than any other ethnic group (pp32). CVD is the number one killer of African American males in the United States. The American Heart Associations’ statistics show that 45. 9% of African American men have some form of CVD, 32. 4% of these African Americans will die before the age of fifty. Over 100,000 black men die each year from CVD; this is 274 men every day, and 11 men an hour.
There are many factors that contribute to this disparity, but most of these factors can be corrected or prevented. The cardiovascular diseases that are the greatest threat to African Americans are coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and high cholesterol. The risk factors or causes for these diseases are usually linked or overlapping, that is factors that contribute to high cholesterol also may cause stroke or heart disease. The methods of reversing or preventing these diseases are pretty similar or the same for one another. About the Major Diseases
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States among African American men (Medline 2009); it is a disease where the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart narrow. This narrowing of the blood vessels is due to the buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries; this plaque comes from an overload of cholesterol in the blood system. As the coronary arteries narrow, blood flow to the heart can slow down or even stop. “This can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, heart failure, and heart attacks” (Medline, 2009).
There are many factors that increase risk factors for CHD and there are factors that can be controlled and some factors you cannot control. The factors you cannot control are heredity, in which there is a family history of CHD especially if they had it before the age of fifty, and age or gender, where men are more susceptible to this disease and at an earlier age than women. Then there are factors that you can control such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, alcohol abuse, not exercising, and excessive stress.
High blood pressure (HBP) is the restriction of blood flow through the vessels thus putting extra strain on the heart and damaging blood vessels. African American Community Health Advisory Committee’s factsheet (2008) states, “Twenty-eight percent of African American men are affected by HBP, and it is the cause of 65,000 deaths a year. ” High blood pressure increases the pressure in the arteries, and as the heart pumps against this pressure, the heart has to work harder. If left untreated, this will cause the heart muscle to thicken and the left ventricle will become enlarged.
The enlarging of the left ventricle reduces the amount of blood pumped by the heart each minute and congestive heart failure may occur. HBP also contributes to the thickening of the blood vessel wall, which increases the cholesterol deposits in the vessels. This combination increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Stroke or Cerebrovascular disease is a risk factor for heart disease where the supply of blood to the brain is interrupted. A stroke can occur when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is blocked by a clot, or a blood vessel breaks open, causing blood to leak into the brain.
If the flow of blood is stopped for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get blood and oxygen which will cause brain cells to die and can result in permanent damage. According to Medline (2009), “Approximately every forty seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. ” (p. 164). High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for strokes (Medline 2009), but diabetes, family history, high cholesterol, alcohol abuse, and head injury also increase the odds of having a stroke. High blood cholesterol, also known as lipid disorder, is caused when there are too many fatty substances in the blood.
Cholesterol is made naturally by the body, but also comes from eating an unhealthy diet of fatty meats, eggs, and dairy. Along with an unhealthy diet, high cholesterol is associated with diabetes, inactivity, alcohol use, and smoking. Prevention and Treatment Cardiovascular disease is scary and could strike at any minute, but now is not the time to be scared. Now is the time to take action, because CVD is preventable or treatable. Preventing premature CVD, before the age of fifty, is crucial; heart attacks between the age of thirty and sixty are primarily due to lifestyle factors.
Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and lack of physical activity are the most serious risk factors for CVD and heart attacks. Controlling one of these risk factors can help control the others. For example, regular exercise can help control cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and stress levels. Obesity and type two diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate, and due to a high-fat, high calorie diet, and an inactive lifestyle. Much of poor Urban Americans have easier access to highly processed foods, convenience foods, and fast foods than to fresh fruits and vegetables.
A proper diet is one of the best ways to combat heart disease. Changing unhealthy eating habits greatly reduces the risk for heart disease. For optimal health, health Professionals recommend: * Maintaining a healthy weight, with a body mass index of 18. 5-24. 9. * Limiting the amount fat in your diet. * Increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are found in fish, fish oils, and flax seed. * Limiting sodium intake. * Increase potassium intake. * Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables. * Eating a plant-based diet consisting of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Eat at least twenty-five grams of fiber daily. * Eating at least twenty-five grams of soy protein daily. * Not smoking. * Getting regular exercise. * Avoiding or reducing stress. In addition to diet modification, physical activity should also be used to help prevent CVD. “People who are not physically active have twice the risk of heart disease as those who are active. ” (Delores, 2004). More than half of African American men do not achieve recommended levels of physical activity. The recommended amount of activity is thirty minutes a day, five days a week.
This will slow down the narrowing of the blood vessels, increase blood flow, strengthen the heart muscle, and reduce stress. The purpose of this research paper is to inform, not to scare. African American men should know that CVD is a treatable and preventable disease. Young black men do not need to die from a disease that is treatable and preventable. They should not let social economics dictate their eating habits. Dr. Cooper, Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Emory, said, “Develop a proactive attitude about your health.
We need to get away from the idea that heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes are just a way of life in the African American Community. Perhaps your mom or dad had high blood pressure and died young but you do not need to accept that you will have those problems. You need to realize maybe mom was obese and never exercised and dad ate an unhealthy, high fat diet. ” If you are African American and know you are at an elevated risk, go to the doctor at least once a year and get a check-up. Pay close attention to your diet, be more active, watch your weight, and minimize your stress.
Also, educate yourself on the risks and treatments of these diseases and this will have a tremendous impact on your health. If you have any questions, please call you doctor or nurse. References American Heart Association. (2009). 11. Retrieved from http://www. americanheart. org (Corporate author; Technical or research report; Published on the Internet) Delores, C. (2004). Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrition and Well-being A-Z , 2. (Journal with discontinuous pagniation; No DOI provided) Brennan, T. , Spettell, C. , Villagra, V. , Ofili, E. , McMahill-Walraven, C. , Lowy, E. , et al. (2010).
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Overbaugh, K. (2009). Acute Coronary Syndrome. American Journal of Nursing , 109 (5), 42- 52. doi: 10. 1097/01. NAJ. 0000351508. 39509. e2. (Journal with discontinuous pagination; DOI provided) The African American Community Health Advisory Committee. (2004). African Americans and Cardiovascular Disease. Retrieved from http://www. aachac. org (Corporate author; Technical or research report; Published on the Internet) ——————————————– . The statistics for this paragraph were taken from the American Heart Association’s factsheet.