Cardiovascular Disease

Important note: AACHAC is in the process of updating this health information. Please check back with us soon for the latest information. (6/13/2014)

What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease, which blocks the blood vessels to cause heart attacks, kidney problems and strokes, kills more Americans than any other disease. African Americans are at greater risk for CVD than any other population group, according to the American Heart Association. In 1993, black men were almost 1 1/2 times as likely as white men to die from CVD; black females were 69.1 percent more likely than white women to die from CVD.

In San Mateo County, 171.4 of 100,000 African Americans die from heart disease compared to 107.8 per 100,000 population of whites. High blood pressure, which means blood doesn’t flow easily through blood vessels, strains the heart and damages blood vessels. It is a risk factor for heart attack and the greatest single cause of stroke. It affects 28 percent of African American adults and more than two-thirds of African Americans over age 60. It is the number one preventable cause of more than 65,000 deaths annually among African Americans.

Warning Signs

For a Heart Attack

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath

For a Stroke

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body
  • Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye
  • Sudden, unexplained severe headaches
  • Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness or sudden falls, especially along with other symptoms

Cholesterol and Heart Disease
High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. Half of black men and 54 percent of black women have too much cholesterol, a soft, fat-like material in the blood. Cholesterol is a made naturally by the body, but also comes from eating animal products including meats, eggs and dairy. Fruit, vegetables and cereals don’t have cholesterol.

Cholesterol can be reduced by eating fewer foods containing cholesterol and exercising. Medications may lower cholesterol for some.

To Control Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

  • Lose weight
  • Become physically active
  • Moderate alcohol intake
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke