Let’s Start Now

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2009 at 8:09 am

I’ve been away from daily blogging–mourning the untimely loss of my beloved uncle, Richard Earl Wiggins, Sr. He was 58. Like over 40 percent of African Americans, Uncle Earl suffered from hypertension. According to the American Heart Association, hypertension begins “earlier in life in blacks than in whites and is usually more severe. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. That’s why it’s called the ‘silent killer.’” This silent killer visited my home, as it has many homes–Uncle Earl’s death has been attributed to complications caused by untreated or inadequate treatment of hypertension.

A 2008 study examining African Americans and hypertension in New York revealed that some 750,000 residents in that state suffer from “uncontrolled high blood pressure.” Why are African Americans disproportionately suffering from hypertension? Largely, because hypertension is hereditary. But also, African Americans fall into several high-risk categories that make contracting hypertension extremely likely. Dr. Sonia Angell, New York City’s Director of Cardiovascular Prevention and Control, as well as one of the authors who contributed to the study, reported that “African-Americans in the city and other urban areas are disproportionately affected by genetic and social factors that contribute to high blood pressure. As a group, blacks have a 50 percent higher rate of obesity than whites, are predisposed to diabetes and have a greater sensitivity to salt. Early-life poverty is also a risk factor.”

Furthermore, one major culprit for African Americans is comfort foods–fried foods. Growing up, “soul food” was healthy for you; it was cooked from the heart, from the soul that included lots of love. That is what my grandmother would often tell me; it was also a way to feed a large family relatively inexpensively. Yet, what African Americans have traditionally believed to be comforting is now silently killing us. Yet, there are ways for all of us, but especially for African Americans, to enjoy the comforts of soul food without the silent killer visiting others’ homes, starting with reducing the frequency of fried foods. But also,

• Lose weight if you’re overweight.
• Eat healthy foods low in saturated fat, trans fat,
cholesterol and salt.
• Eat a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables
and low-fat dairy products.
• Increase your daily physical activity.
• Limit alcohol to no more than one drink a
day if you’re a woman, two drinks a day if
you’re a man.
• If you smoke, stop.
• Take medicine the way your doctor
tells you
(Courtesy of the American Heart Association)


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