The CDC reports that one out of every 14 Black men suffers from coronary heart disease. Unfortunately, the CDC also finds that half of the men who die suddenly from coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Heart disease is also the leading cause of Black women in the United States, affecting one out of every 16 women. Luckily, there are simple things that everyone can do today in order to improve the health of our hearts.
As we celebrate World Heart Day, check out these tips from the Harvard Medical School to improve your heart health.
1. Take A 10-Minute Walk
Some of us put on the "Quarantine 15," but there are easy ways you can get your physical fitness back on track. Taking incremental steps to improve your physical health are necessary. You don't have to jump straight to a five mile run. You can start out with a 10-minute walk and work your way up. As you improve physical fitness, your heart health will improve as well.
2. Eat one extra fruit or vegetable per day
A healthy diet can lead to a healthy heart. Mangoes, grapes, nectarines, cherries and other fresh fruits and vegetables can easily improve your heart health. Not to mention, mangoes, pineapples and other fresh fruit can be pretty tasty.
3. Don't drink your calories
Drinking 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks or sports drinks daily can increase coronary heart disease. A 2012 study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that drinking such drinks daily can increase the risk of heart disease by nearly 20%.
I am truly guilty of this. Soda has been a big part of my life, but I often go on what I call "soda fasts." For four and five weeks at a time, I will cut sodas and other high-calorie drinks out of my diet. I also keep a reusable water bottle around at all-times. It's all about building habits day by day that will ultimately become second nature.
4. Wash your hands
Washing your hands is something that should be done regardless of your heart health. However, washing your hands is exceedingly important if you deal with heart issues. Keeping your hands clean can help prevent the flu, pneumonia, COVID-19 and other illnesses that can have an effect on your heart.
5. Count your blessings
There are a number of reasons why it is important to count your blessings. First, taking time to think positive thoughts can improve your overall health and, thus, your heart health. Also, taking time to think positive thoughts can reduce stress, which also helps your heart out. Most importantly, there are systematic issues within the healthcare system in America that go beyond the view of this article. These systemic obstacles often contribute to the lack of care available to Black Americans in order to treat heart disease. With that said, it's important sometimes to just sit back, reflect and be thankful for the people and things that are around us each day because tomorrow is not promised.