Ask Dr. Renee: What Do Black Women Need To Know About Heart Disease?

February 18, 2015  |  
1 of 10

February is Women’s Heart Health Month.  I am sure you have heard about Star Jones and her heart scare, she has given her voice to the heart health fight. Perhaps you heard about Toni Braxton and her pericarditis. Thankfully, both these ladies found out what was wrong with their hearts and acted quickly to fix it and continue to have good heart health. According to the Mayo Clinic, more women die of heart disease than men each year. Even more disturbing are the statitistics in the African American community.

Click through the following pages to find out what you need to know about protecting yourself from heart disease.

The Facts

According to the American Heart Association:

  • Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American women annually.
  • Of African-American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart diseases.
  • Only 1 in 5 African-American women believes she is personally at risk.
  • Only 52 percent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
  • Only 36 percent of African-American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.

I am sure many of you went RED for GO RED! day February 6, but in addition to wearing red let’s find out exactly what we can do to make certain that we do not become one of these statitistics. 

What is heart disease really?

Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease. It is a disorder of the blood vessels of the heart that can lead to a heart attack. A heart attack happens when an artery becomes blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart.

How can we prevent Heart disease?

1. Exercise 30 minutes a day of cardiovascular activity i.e. walking, running, dancing, swimming will help keep your heart healthy and strong. The exercise does not have to be 30 minutes at one time you can do 3 10 minute sessions if that what works in your schedule.  Strength training is very important as well to your heart health. Resistance exercise also led to a longer-lasting drop in blood pressure after exercise, compared to aerobic exercise.

2. Eat healthy meals. This can be difficult but does not have to be. You should make vegetables the largest portion on your plate. It is best to have protein and fiber with every meal. If you can sneak some vegetables at breakfast via a smoothie or on your plate that is a great way to start your day. It is important that you watch your fat intake because it will form plaque in your vessels that could block your vessels causing a heart attack. You also want to lower your salt intake because that can lead to high blood pressure which causes the heart to work harder to beat.

3. Know your numbers. It is very important to go to the doctor for your annual check ups. You need to know what is your normal blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar. Heart disease is preventable and treatable if found before irreversable damage occurs. Diabetes also leads to heart disease. Type 2 diabetes is preventable by following these same tips. It is important you know your numbers so a plan can be in place to keep you healthy or to help you achieve optimum health.

What are some Risk Factors?

Risk Factors for Heart Disease – these habits increase the chances of developing a disease or having it worsen:

    • Smoking- There is no safe way to smoke. Once you quit after 1 year your heart disease risk will drop by more than half. According to the Mayo Clinic smoking is a greater risk factor for women than men.
    • High Blood Pressure- 140/90 or higher is considered high. But even prehypertension 120-139 over 80-89 raises your risk of heart disease
    • High Blood Cholesterol – Cholesterol travels in the blood in packages called lipoproteins.
  • LDL is Low Density Lipoprotein (BAD CHOLESTEROL) 160 or above is high less than 100 is OPTIMAL
  • HDL is High Density Lipoprotein (GOOD CHOLESTEROL) less than 40 increases your risk for heart disease 60 or higher is protective
  • Overweight/Obesity
    • Physical Inactivity
    • Diabetes – Type 2 is the kind most commonly found in adults who are overweight
    • MENOPAUSAL WOMEN – Estrogen plus progestin therapy INCREASES the chances of developing HEART DISEASE.

If you have family members with heart disease, you do not need to accept that you will also. You can do something about it, you can make certain that you do not become one of those statitistics. If you have any of these risk factors please start today and get help. If you would like my help please visit Ask Dr. Renee.


Dr. Renee Matthews has appeared on television shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and WGN’s “People to People”  where she discussed different health topics. She started her media career with her own radio show on ReachMD, a programming source for health professionals. In addition Dr. Renee has been a featured medical correspondent on Sirius XM’s “Sway in the Morning.” 

Dr. Renee earned her undergraduate degree in 1999 and her Medical Doctorate in 2005. She spent the early part of her medical career as an educator for numerous hospitals and attending staff on cord blood. 

Twitter: @AskDrRenee

Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
blog comments powered by Disqus