Heart Disease and African Americans

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Heart Disease and African Americans

Heart diseases, normally referred to as Cardio-vascular diseases are diseases that occur due to atherosclerosis (American Heart Association, 2015). This is a condition occasioned by the build up of plaque along the walls of the arteries. Consequently, the blood vessels are unable to supply sufficient blood throughout the body. This condition has been categorized as the leading global cause of death. These diseases include, stroke, coronary artery diseases, cardiomyopathy, hypertensive heart disease, venous thrombosis. The recent CDC statistics show that the annually, 610,000 American die due to Heart diseases. Out of four deaths, one is as a result of heart diseases (CDC, 2017). Further statistics show that the number of deaths vary based on race and ethnicity. It is the leading cause of deaths to the Hispanics, Whites, and African American. This essay will however major on heart diseases amongst the African Americans. It will look at the cause of the prevalence and further how it can be dealt with.

From the CDC data, 23.8% of the African American deaths was caused by Heart Diseases. Therefore, the African Americans are affected the most with these CVDs as compared to the other ethnic groups. From the American Heart and Stroke Association statistics, 44.8% of African American males and 47.3% of females were affected by the CVDs (Health Appointments, 2017). Approximately a third of the young-adult male deaths is due to the circulatory diseases. On the side of the African American women, the leading causes of mortality are CVDs. They include strokes, diabetes, and tuberculosis. In some cases, the CVDs were as a result of some risk factors. These are diseases that lead to an increase the chances of CVDs. These include diabetes, stress, and high blood pressure (American Heart Association, 2015). Different factors have been considered to be the cause for the high number of deaths due to CVDs. These include:

Genes-heart Disease and African Americans

African American have a genetic composition that makes them more receptible to these CVDs. Further, these genes are hereditary. These genes are mainly due to gene mutation and are known as polymorphisms (American Heart Association, 2015). Research has shown that these genes are directly related to the CVDs. In a research carried out by a group of German scientists, mutation of Renin-angiotensin was discovered to be the cause of the CVDs (American Heart Association, 2017). This gene is responsible for the monitoring of the cardio-vascular activities in the body and blood flow. Further, it was realized that particular genes were the main cause of particular gene diseases. For example, the M235T polymorphism was linked to hypertension, whereas A1166C was correlated with coronary heart diseases (Fuchs, 2011).

A study conducted by the University of Texas further showed that the African Americans had a higher number of these chromosomes as compared to their Caucasian counterparts. The chromosomes were considered to be more dominant in instances that the family has a history of a certain CVD. Therefore, African Americans are affected more with these CVDs due to them inheriting the disease from their parents and ancestors (Lloyd-Jones et al. 2014). African Americans have a higher gene mutation of Chromosome 22 which is attributed to the MYH9 haplotype gene (Hamet, n.d). A study showed that the gene was at 74% of the African Americans and only 4% of the whites. Therefore

These genes were further realized to affect the manner in which African Americans were able to break down certain minerals that may cause the CVDs. For example, an extra tablespoon of salt affects the African Americans more (American Heart Association, 2017). It has been attributed to their gene composition and inability of breaking iron better. This is the major cause of the high number of African Americans with Diabetes Mellitus.

Socioeconomic Status-heart Disease and African Americans

Statistics show that individuals in the low-income areas are at a higher risk of getting the CVDs. It is because of various factors. They lead a life with a high risk of these CVDs. These includes the less access to the check-ups and other medical facilities. These individuals will always strive to reduce their expenditure causing them to have to cut on their hospital visits. In addition, they do not have favorable health insurances to enable them get the desired health services. As study was further conducted and it showed that a large number of the African Americans lacked confidence in their healthcare providers. They deemed it all but a money-making scheme. Therefore, they only went to the hospital when they were sick instead of the regular check-ups (Fuchs, 2011).

Further, their perception of the government always being against them has led to them having a wrong perspective on the positive impact of the medical care given to them in the health facilities. Researchers have tried to go deeper into the history of this harmful behaviors. This distrust in the government and other health officials can be traced back to the era of slavery. They have always rebelled against whatever they were told by their Caucasian masters. In addition, different narratives such as the government experimenting on the African Americans using certain drugs has made them lack confidence in the hospitals (Health Appointments, 2017). The height of the loss of confidence was during the AIDS debate. The government was accused of developing AIDS in order for it to curb their population. Consequently, the African Americans are more unlikely to go to the hospitals due to such factors.

In addition, the areas that these individuals reside in play a huge role in the increase of CVDs amongst these individuals in the society. The environment in most neighborhoods may be filled with some impurities which cause breathing difficulties (Frierson et al, 2013). With the rise in pollution, they are always exposed to chemicals and impurities that may lead to the CVDS. They include chemical components such as Lead. In addition, the areas that they work is hazardous to their health. They may be working in the factories and exposed to a lot of smoke which in turn clogs their blood vessels. Some of them work in these areas without having the protective gear which can help in protecting them from these emissions. These may include the lack of gas masks.

Poverty also plays an important role in the high cases of CVD amongst these groups. Leading a healthy life is rather expensive (Frierson, et al, 2013). A relatively high percentage of the African Americans live in poverty. Approximately, 26% of the African Americans live in poverty as compared to the 15% of the overall population. The latest data shows that the median African American income is at $43,151 while the US population is at $66,632 (American Heart Association, 2017). Therefore, the opportunities that they will always be accorded will be less as compared to their white counterparts. With the GMOs and other lab produced foods, the less affluent in the society will prefer them to the healthy foods because of them being cheaper (Lloyd-Jones et al., 2010). These foods, fruits and animal products will always be filled with chemicals which may be harmful to the health of the person eating it. Scientists have further used chemicals to make the products bigger and more appealing to the buyer. For instance, gene mutation has made scientists be able to increase the size of the chicken breasts and further decrease the maturation time of these animals. The healthy products are more expensive and it may be said to be for a specific group in the society.Heart Disease and African Americans

The socioeconomics of the African Americans has also been considered to be the major reason for the increase in the risk factors amongst them. Statistics have shown that the African Americans still have the poorest state of health. Consequently, this has resulted into the increase in the number of individuals with the risk factors. Further, it is clear that these risk factors appear earlier amongst the African Americans as compared to the other ethnic groups. 13.8% of the African Americans children have high blood pressure whereas only 8.4% of white children suffer from high blood pressure (CDC, 2017). A study that was carried out by the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis showed that older African Americans are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from high blood pressure when they are older as compared to the white Americans.

Among the CVD hazards is stress. The African Americans experience more stress levels as compared to their counterparts. The stress levels will always rise when the body is exposed to a condition, caused by the psychosocial, environmental, or physical changes in the body. Researchers have generally categorized these causes as stimuli (Frierson et al., 2013). Therefore, when deciding on the causes of stress, one is supposed to look at 3 main types of stress. These are life events, chronic strains, and the daily lives. Therefore, the African Americans are more exposed to these stress factors. A good example are the chronic strains. This is a form of stress that is always caused by the continuous exposure to some certain stressful occurrences. These may include factors such as the discrimination and poor parenting. The issue of racism and being raised by a single parent are among the major stress factors that African Americans will be exposed to. Some life events such as violence at home or sleeping hungry may lead to an increase in stress levels. Consequently, they will always be more likely to suffer from the CVDs. The effects of stress worsen if it is a child who is subjected to these conditions. The life events may take a toll in their lives later on.

Lastly, the socioeconomic status will always affect the health of the students in the schools. The schools will always allow the students to eat a lot of unhealthy foods. These are foods that are full of fat and sugars. These are among the major causes of CDVs. The school menu will be filled with carbonated drinks and other unhealthy foods. (CDC, 2017) This choice will always be influenced by different factors. They include issues such as the children’s preferences and the fact that these foods are always cheaper. Some schools have gone the extra mile of having the vending machines in the schools. Therefore, for a dollar or less, a student can purchase a soft drink. The state is different when it comes to the schools in the affluent areas. The schools have in place certain policies and steps meant to encourage healthy life styles. These may include steps such as banning the intake of soft drinks in the school premises and a healthy menu. Some schools further require that the healthy living should always be emulated even at home. Therefore, it is evident that the economic power of individuals dictates the manner in which they live their lives. Therefore, the individuals in the poor neighborhoods, who are mostly the African Americans will be more likely to be affected by the CVDs.

Culture-heart Disease and African Americans

            The African American culture is one which has a higher risk. In particular, the foods that they enjoy are normally full of cholesterol, fat, and sodium. These are foods that cause the atherosclerosis in the blood vessels. A huge percentage of the African Americans prefer take out instead of preparing a healthy meal. They will always prefer the burgers, pizza, or fries over vegetables or brown rice. A study that was conducted by the Huffington Post showed that 52% of the African Americans eat fast food at least weekly (Tepper, 2013). The high cholesterol intake is among the major causes of blood vessel problems. It leads to the plaque deposits which in turn negatively affects the blood flow.

In addition, obesity is part of the African American culture. Statistics show that 63% of African American Males and 77% of African American females above 20 years old are obese. It is because of their preferred diet plans. The foods will always have a high number of calories and cholesterol. The African Americans prefer to take in red meat which is less healthy as compared to fish and chicken. In addition, it is genetic. There is a high possibility of a child from an obese parent ending up overweight or obese. This gene will be passed down to the offspring. These children will find it easy to add weight. In addition, the lifestyle of the obese parent may always be passed down to them. The unhealthy eating habits will be visible in the manner in which the family eats. The children will always be subjected to always eating from the fast foods because the parents will always dictate the life of these children. About 20% of the African American children are obese.

Further, the intake of certain drugs may be among the causes of the high risk of CVDs. These may include beer and cigarette. A CDC research showed that African Americans smoke less as compared to the whites but they are more likely to die because of the diseases occasioned by the intake. In the study, it was concluded that about 30% of the African Americans use tobacco. It may be Smokeless tobacco (2.0%), Cigars (7.5%), or Cigarettes (25.5%) (CDC, 2017). The study found out that smoking leads to an increase in the probability of one suffering from the risk diseases such as diabetes. As earlier mentioned, the lack of proper healthcare they may be at a higher risk of succumbing to these effects of smoking.

The effects are further passed down to their children. The research showed that a huge percentage of the children are victims of secondhand smoke exposure. 67.9 % of the African Americans aged between 3-11, 54.6% aged between 12-19, and 39.6% aged above 39.6%. Consequently, they end up being at a more risk of suffering from the CVDs (CDC, 2017).

Heart diseases occur over a period of time. The process of the fat deposits takes place with the continuous intake of the foods high in cholesterol and sugars (Saab et al. 2014). It becomes hazardous when one ingests excess fats. These are fats that are unable to be broken down by the body. Consequently, some will find their way to the heart and the other blood vessels.

The African Americans have always been categorized as athletic. However, a large number of African Americans do not exercise. The fitness culture has not been entrenched in the lives of these individuals. The lack of exercise leads to them being unable to breakdown the fat deposits and burn calories (Saab et al. 2014). In addition, it encourages the development of risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity. The culture of always going out to play is slowly changing to always being in front of video games. With the increase in the number of children with access to the internet, they will opt to spend their time on social media or playing the online games. Consequently, their inactivity will increase the chances of them suffering from the heart diseases (Health Appointments, 2017). The effects will be felt later when they are adults.

Lastly, the environment that they live in encourages the children to always be indoors. In some cases, they may lack the field to play in or they have to be indoors for their safety. The places that were playing grounds for the kids may end up being turned into homes or business premises. Therefore, the children will lack the playing grounds. The parents will also be reluctant to allow them to have to go outside and play on the streets. They may be afraid of issues such as them being involved in accidents or being victims of the gang wars or even kidnapped. Therefore, the lack of security in these neighborhoods may be the factor leading to the inactivity of the African American children. At school, the facilities may not be well maintained making them unusable.

How to Curb the Rise in CVDs amongst the African Americans-heart Disease and African Americans

The bests way to curb the rise in heard diseases amongst the African Americans is to increase their understanding on the issue of CVDs. A number of the patients live the unhealthy lives due to the lack of knowledge on the effects of these CVDs. They do not understand the activities that they may engage in that leads to them being more at risk. Therefore, the relevant authorities should have in place certain steps meant to input this knowledge on this section of the society (Health Appointments, 2017). For example, Michelle Obama brought the initiative to encourage healthy meals in schools. It can be emulated at the work place by the different bosses. By subjecting the parents to this way of healthy living, it will trickle down to their children. Consequently, it will help with dealing with the problem of CDV at the moment and the future.

The African Americans should be encouraged to change their culture. A large percentage of Africans tend to believe that an African American should have a huge body. This perception is mainly in the women. Therefore, they adopt unhealthy styles of living, for them to grow bigger. Therefore, they should be educated on the Body to Mass Index. It will enable them to deal with the problem of being overweight or obese. They should also be encouraged to do more exercise. Further, acts such as smoking and high consumption of alcohol needs to be discouraged.

In addition, the African Americans need to understand their family histories. Because some diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure are hereditary, one can try and keep away from foods and conditions that may cause these illnesses. The preventive measures will help them keep the condition in check. In addition, the African Americans should be encouraged to always go to the hospital for checkups. In some cases, the conditions may have been prevented at an early age. However, because of their distrust in the hospitals, they end up trying to save their lives when it is too late.

Lastly, steps should be put that will enable them improve their standard of living. In particular, steps should be set in place to elevate them from poverty. They should receive better pay in the jobs that they carry out. They should also be given better health facilities. These medical centers are also supposed to be more affordable. By doing this, the society will be able to deal with the high mortality rate of the African Americans due to the heart diseases.

Conclusion

            In conclusion, it is clear that a huge number of African Americans die due to heart diseases. Therefore, steps need to be taken at both the particular and societal level to deal with this menace. Different organization and the government should try and provide the African Americans with a life that will protect them from the heart diseases. The families should further be encouraged to adopt a healthy life in terms of always engaging in exercises and also eating healthy. With these steps in place, the mortality levels will be reduced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

American Heart Association. (2015). African-Americans and Heart Disease, Stroke. Retrieved from American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/African-Americans-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_444863_Article.jsp#.WhoRP7aWbIV

American Heart Association. (2017, October 27). African-Americans live shorter lives due to heart disease and stroke. Retrieved from Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171023094616.htm

American Heart Association. (2017). Heart Disease in African-American Women. Retrieved from Go Red for Women: https://www.goredforwomen.org/about-heart-disease/facts_about_heart_disease_in_women-sub-category/african-american-women/

CDC. (2017, September 18). African Americans and Tobacco Use. Retrieved from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/disparities/african-americans/index.htm

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Frierson, G., Howard, E., DeFina, L., Powell-Wiley, T., & Willis, B. (2013). Effect of Race and Socioeconomic Status on Cardiovascular Risk Factor Burden: The Cooper Center Longitudinal Study. National institute of Health, 35-42.

Fuchs, F. (2011). Why Do Black Americans Have Higher Prevalence of Hypertension? AHA Journals, 383-389.

Hamet, P. (n.d). Cardiovascular Disease and Heredity: Possibilities for Prevention and Management with Genetics. World Health Organization, 1-10.

Health Appointments. (2017). Heart Disease in African Americans. Retrieved from Health Appointments: https://healtheappointments.com/heart-disease-in-african-americans-2-essays/

Health Appointments. (2017). Heart Disease in the African American Culture. Retrieved from Health Appointments: https://healtheappointments.com/heart-disease-in-the-african-american-culture-essays/

Lloyd-Jones, D., Adams, R. J., Brown, T. M., Carnethon, M., Dai, S., De Simone, G., … & Go, A. (2010). Heart disease and stroke statistics—2010 update. Circulation121(7), e46-e215.

Saab, K. R., Kendrick, J., Yracheta, J. M., Lanaspa, M. A., Pollard, M., & Johnson, R. J. (2014). New insights on the risk for cardiovascular disease in African Americans: the role of added sugars. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, ASN-2014040393.s

Tepper, R. (2013, August 07). 8 Out Of 10 Americans Eat Fast Food At Least Once A Month, Says Gallup Poll. Retrieved from Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/06/fast-food-poll_n_3714988.html