Heart Disease is the No. 1 Killer among Black Women

By Arleana Waller

Letter To The Editor

Heart disease and stroke is the No. 1 killer in women, and it disproportionately affects African-American women, it’s our No. 1 killer. African-American women are less likely to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of our death. It’s time Kern County health care partner with us and start an initiative to educate us on matters of the heart.

Black women hearts have been on my heart for a few years. I’m getting older, not in the best shape of my life, my mother died from a heart disease. I like thousands of Black women in Kern County are high risk for heart disease. I know how important it is, but somehow getting my heart checked is scary, its not apart of the conversation, but, it’s in the back of my mind, almost daily. I need the courage, the education, the support to take the step.

A Sunday in February, I took a step with a group of my girlfriends. We gathered for a #RepresentationMatter #HeartofTheMatter photo shoot to tell our story to the masses. I wanted a diverse group, in our picture you have a Superior Court Judge, Doctor, Attorney, Global Entrepreneur, Nonprofit ED, Media Personalities, Global Speaker, Real Estate Developer, Celebrity Chef, Pastor, Newspaper owner, Authors, Admin Assistant, & Student. We came together to tell our story in hopes of saving a sister. Heart disease has impacted our families, but the marketing messaging are not impacting us to act. We’re inserting ourselves into the conversation to change the narrative.

Black women from all backgrounds are affected by heart disease:

· 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 believe 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.

One must ask why? My people perish from lack of knowledge. The little-known fact is that if known and treated in advance, millions of women lives could be saved.

Researchers have found that there may be a gene that makes African-American women much more sensitive to the effects of salt, which in turn increases the risk for developing high blood pressure. In people who have this gene, as little as one extra gram (half a teaspoon) of salt could raise blood pressure by as much as five millimeters of mercury.

African-American women tend to have higher rates of obesity and diabetes, which puts us at greater risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. But for many African-American women, particularly those who consider themselves perfectly healthy, perception may not equal reality, we have to reach all of us to educate each of us.

So, what’s the solution?

For starters, targeted education is critically important. Until then, lower the amount of sodium you eat. Improve your eating habits and get active.

African American Women Receive Targeted Messaging Better

In 2004 Go Red for Women was born as a campaign to raise awareness among women about their great health threat – heart disease. It became the trusted force for change to eradicate heart disease and stroke. www.heart.org/en/affiliates/california/kern-county

In 2009 Go Red Por Tu Corazón was established to meet the unique needs of Hispanic women, to unite them and end heart disease. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-go-red-for-women/go-red-por-tu-corazon

In 2020, It’s high time to establish, and I propose Go Red Kwa Moyo Wako to meet the unique needs of African American women and help eradicate their No. 1 Killer – Heart Disease and I am looking for a partner in this movement.

In health care there is a need for culturally appropriate, tailored messaging to African American women to increase their knowledge and awareness. If you think targeting initiatives for African American women aren’t important, think again. Mr. Trump two major national audience opportunities, The State of the Union and Super Bowl, he spent millions of dollars on a commercial featuring an African-American woman to target that audience. Not to make this political, but to stress the importance of specific messaging, he knows their votes are the swing vote. We receive our messages uniquely.

It’s time Kern County speak directly to women who look like us about the Heart of the Matter.

Go Red Kwa Moyo Wako.

The ShePower Global Ambassador, who is on a mission to empower 1,000,000 girls and women to own their ShePower.