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Inequities put African Americans more at risk for heart issues

Posted at 6:54 AM, Feb 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-19 08:55:44-05

While more people experienced a cardiac event over the last year in relation to the pandemic, African Americans are already at a higher risk of heart disease, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Health Insider Dr. Shad Marvasti attributes the increase to having higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, less access to quality healthcare, and chronic stress from systemic racism that leads to chronic inflammation.

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He says for many minorities, your zip code can put you more at risk than your genetic code. Studies have shown that a 15- to 20-mile drive from Scottsdale to south Phoenix will cut 15 years from your life expectancy because of those risk factors.

Dr. Shad says some of the keys to bridging the inequities are eliminating food deserts with more access to fresh, healthy foods for lower-income areas. He also says we need to empower health education and teach kids about the value of fresh foods early. He also suggests increasing safe recreational facilities in lower-income areas to promote healthy, physical activity to improve heart health.

What should you do for someone having a heart attack?

For anyone who may see someone having a heart attack, your first move is to call 911.

As you wait for help, Dr. Shad says you should have the patient lie down so their heart doesn't have to work as hard. If you can find Aspirin, have them chew on a tablet — it could be life-saving, he says.

Finally, find out if they take a blood pressure medication and have them take any dosage they may have missed.

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