According to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC), the number one cause of death in the Caribbean and African-American communities is heart disease.
People of African and Caribbean heritage are at a much greater risk of developing heart disease than most other ethnicities, leading to a lower life expectancy and a poor quality of life.
We have no control over our gender or race; however, we do have control over the modifiable factors that cause heart disease. There are three main conditions that increase the risk of heart disease:
- High blood pressure
You can lower the risk of these conditions through a healthy diet, exercise and regular visits to your primary care physician. Many medications used to control high blood pressure and diabetes are free at Publix Supermarkets. These medications include amlodipine, lisinopril and metformin. Other medication cost only $2.50 per month including clonidine, clopidogrel, furosemide, hydralazine, hydrochlorothiazide, warfarin, losartan, metoprolol, spironolactone, triamterene-HCTZ, glimepiride and simvastatin.
It is also important to know the warning signs indicating heart problems. If you or someone you know experiences chest pain, shortness of breath, pain radiating to the shoulders and arms, neck or jaw pain, slurring of speech, face drooping, or arm weakness, you should call 911 or seek help from the nearest emergency department.
Change starts with each of us; let’s keep our hearts healthy.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kelsey Deidrick is part of the MD Program, Class of 2019.