In observance of both Black History Month and American Heart Month this February, Providence Health shared statistics, warning signs and prevention tips regarding cardiovascular health among Black and Latina women, who are disproportionately impacted by heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States. One in five female deaths are attributed to heart disease, yet only about half of women are aware of the risk. What’s more, even fewer Black and Latina women are aware that they are at risk.
Owing to the fact that they generally have smaller hearts with smaller blood vessels, women experience different heart attack symptoms than men. For example, men may feel sudden chest pains, whereas women may experience a dull pressure in their chest; shortness of breath; pain in the neck, jaw, or throat; fatigue; nausea; or vomiting.
Recognizing these lesser-known symptoms is critical to getting timely treatment for Black and Latina women experiencing a cardiac event.
More than 50,000 Black women die of heart disease each year in the United States, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Black women are also 30% more likely to die of heart disease compared with non-Hispanic whites, a Department of Health and Human Services study found.
Similarly, only one in three Latina women are aware of the risks associated with heart disease, according to the AHA. Latinos are also more susceptible to the condition because of their tendency to have high rates of certain risk factors, including diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Although such risk factors as family history cannot be controlled, avoiding smoking, eating a well-balanced, low-salt diet, limiting alcohol intake, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day five days a week and finding ways to cope with stress can help mitigate heart disease risk.