Are African-American Men and Women At A Greater Risk of Developing Fatal Heart Disease?

Heart diseases are one of the most common global health concerns. According to the World Health Organization, it is the leading cause of deaths across the globe, causing over 17.9 million deaths in 2016 alone.

The disease is also one of the greatest health challenges in America, as it is responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths in the country, as per studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

AA couple - heart failure

Currently, the relationship between heart diseases and ethnic groups is still being evaluated. However, some researchers have theorized the link of certain risk factors of heart disease with race and ethnicity, which will be discussed in this article, along with statistics and figures indicating the high risk of heart diseases in African-American men and women.

Prevalence of heart disease in African-American population

According to the American Heart Association, almost 50% of the Non-Hispanic Black adult population in America has some form of cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke and other heart related issues. Out of these, 47.7% were women while 46% were men, which is an indication that the disease is prevalent almost equally in both African-American males and females.

Risk factors contributing to heart diseases in African-Americans

The increased prevalence of fatal heart diseases in African-American population is multi-factorial, which makes it difficult to narrow down the causes. Some common aspects associated with heart diseases and the African-American community are as follows:

High Blood Pressure:

Elevated blood pressure has the ability to damage your cardiovascular system and can also have a negative impact on your overall quality of life. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure gradually damages the inner walls of your arteries, which eventually leads to the development of fatal cardiovascular diseases, such as heart enlargement and coronary heart disease.

Over 40% of Non-Hispanic men and women of African-American descent have high blood pressure, which increases the possibility of development of fatal heart diseases in this group.


Obesity is yet another widely prevalent health concern that also boosts chances of fatal heart diseases. Currently, African-American individuals make up 48.1% of the total obese population of America, which places them at a higher risk of deadly heart issues, such as coronary heart disease.

Increased stress levels:

Social and economic stressors have an adverse effect on your cardiovascular system. According to a 2006 study conducted in Chicago, in-depth interviews with African-American women suffering from heart disease revealed life-long incidents of stress and environmental challenges were contributing to their heart issues. Lack of culturally appropriate stress management programs further complicates this issue.

graph - heart failure

How can we combat this issue?

Being the center of the cardiovascular system, the heart is undoubtedly one of the most important organs of the human body. In order to take effective measures for prevention of heart related diseases, it is important for individuals, especially those of us belonging to a high-risk ethnic group, to stay updated with the early symptoms and underlying causes of the disease.

Health Power For Minorities is a community health platform that aims to improve the health conditions of ethnic minorities by spreading awareness regarding critical health issues widely prevalent in minority and multicultural populations.

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