Heart age is the age of your heart and blood vessels as a result of your risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Adults in the United States have a heart age that is 7 (on average) years older than their actual age1. According to the Framingham Heart Study2 and data collected from every state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projections show that around 69 million adults that haven’t had a heart attack or stroke have a heart age that is 5 or more years older than their actual age. The situation is far worse for both African-American men and women. Our heart age is 11 years older than our actual age3.
Having the largest differential between Heart Age and actual age isn’t a statistic African-Americans want to lead the nation. The CDC says about 3 in 4 heart attacks and strokes are due to risk factors that increase heart age4. That help explains why Heart Disease is the number one killer of African-Americans5.
African-Americans work hard throughout their lives and must overcome all kinds of adversity from external sources. Well, the causes of African-Americans’s high heart age are entirely self-inflicted.
Why are Blacks at Greater Risk?
Smoking, High Blood Pressure, Obesity, and Diabetes are major risk factors that contribute to increased Heart Age. These risk factors play a role in the ten leading causes of death among African-Americans6.
Here’re some important statistics on Smoking in the black community7.
- Percent of non-Hispanic black or African-American men 18 years and over who currently smoke cigarettes: 22.7% (2011-2013)
- Percent of non-Hispanic black or African-American women 18 years and over who currently smoke cigarettes: 15.2% (2011-2013)
Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and grow narrower. Smoking makes your heart beat faster, and your blood pressure goes up8. Jay Harold has a post that talks about how African-Americans in urban areas were targeted by tobacco companies9. There’s no good reason to smoke. Smoking even has a negative effect on pregnant Black Women and their infants. Jay Harold talks about smoking and premature African-American Infants in another post10.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is called diastolic pressure according to MedlinePlus.
High blood pressure can lead to strokes and heart attacks, which are two of the leading causes of reduced quality of life, and death11. Lowering your blood pressure to less than 120/80 lowers your Heart Age12.
Obesity13 means having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much. The weight may come from a combination of muscle, bone, fat and body water Both terms mean that a person’s weight is greater than what’s considered healthy for his or her height. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. The BMI is also used to calculate a person’s Heart Age. You can determine your Body mass index with a BMI calculator14.
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin permits cells to use glucose for energy. Cells cannot use glucose without insulin. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well15.
Stay Young at Heart!
The recipe for reducing your heart is simple. Being able to follow the plan is difficult. Here’s the recipe:
- Control your high blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight and reduce your chances of being Obese.
- Work with your doctor on a treatment plan to manage your diabetes.
- Don’t smoke. Avoid secondhand smoke. Get help to quit smoking.
- If you have high cholesterol levels, work with your doctor on a treatment plan.
- Get 150 minutes every week of moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking.
- Eat a healthy diet, low in sodium and trans fats and high in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Jay Harold realizes that reducing your Heart Age can be a difficult task. Working on any part of the recipe will benefit your heart. This quote by Stephen Richards summarizes Jay Harold’s thoughts. “The only time you fail is when you fall down and stay down.”
Click this link to get free Health and Wealth information to improve your life. Take a free “Slow Roll Through Civil Rights” on the Jay Harold website. Enjoyed this post? Share it and read more here.
7 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus14.pdf#054 Health, United States, 2014, table 54