(Chicago) – February is Black History Month. Throughout the month, the achievements of black Americans are celebrated. The annual event provides an opportunity to focus on the health and well-being of African Americans and to encourage medical check-ups.
“As a vascular surgeon, I see more cases of high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in African American adults,” said Leila Mureebe, MD, a vascular surgeon at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. “These vascular health conditions can be reduced with lifestyle changes.”
For instance, hypertension affects 39 percent of Black or African Americans according to a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypertension is the “silent killer” that can be reduced by following these recommendations:
- Enjoy a low-salt, low-saturated fat diet. Eat high fiber, calcium, and magnesium foods. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
- Exercise to provide a healthy workout for blood flow.
- Lose weight. Even a small weight reduction can make a big difference.
- Don’t smoke or consume alcohol excessively.
A 2009 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report indicated that African American adults are 50 percent more likely to have a stroke than their White adult counterparts. The risk factors for stroke are: obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and cigarette smoking.
Lastly, African Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to have plaque build-up in their leg arteries according to the (U.S.) National Institutes of Health. The highest risk factor for Peripheral Arterial Disease or P.A.D. is smoking. The American Lung Association reports that 21 percent of non-Hispanic black adults smoked in 2008.
“Lifestyle changes may improve vascular health,” said Dr. Mureebe. “Implementing these changes can result in fewer Americans with hypertension, stroke or PAD by next February.”
Additional information about vascular disease appears on VascularWeb.org.
About the Society for Vascular Surgery
The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of vascular surgeons, that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for 3,370 specialty-trained vascular surgeons and other medical professionals who are dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease. Visit its Web site at www.VascularWeb.org
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