“Let’s Have a Heart to Heart about Cardiovascular Disease in African Americans”

By Johnese Bostic, Health Equity and Disparities Consultant


The leading cause of death and disability in the United States and South Carolina, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a broad term for a range of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels. Impacting the structure and function of the heart, CVD includes coronary heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and other diseases of the vein.

Heart disease and stroke are a real burden for South Carolina. During 2012, heart disease was the second leading cause of death in our state, resulting in the passing of more than 9, 200 South Carolinians. The fourth leading cause of death was stroke, resulting in more than 2,300 deaths.

So, why do we need a heart to heart about cardiovascular disease in African Americans?

African Americans are at a greater risk for developing heart disease and suffer from more stroke- related deaths than other ethnicities.

  • More than 2, 440 African Americans in South Carolina died of heart disease in 2012 alone
  • The stroke death rate of African Americans in South Carolina was 13% higher than the 2010 national stroke death rate for African Americans
  • African Americans are more than 46% more likely to die from stroke than Whites in South Carolina

There are risk factors that lead to heart disease and stroke that can be controlled, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Being overweight
  • High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol

In addition,

  • 22% of adult smokers in South Carolina are African American
  • 73% of African Americans in South Carolina are overweight
  • 57% of African Americans don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity
  • 2 out of 5 African Americans have high blood pressure
  • 1 out of 6 African Americans have diabetes
  • 1 out of 3 African Americans in South Carolina have high cholesterol

The good news is, there is something YOU can do about it. Share this information with your family and friends. Know the warning signs of a heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest. If signs are present, call 9-1-1 immediately! Our families, friends, colleagues, and neighbors are suffering. Decreasing the prevalence of heart disease and stroke risk factors among African Americans will lead to better health for all South Carolinians.

For more information on what you can do, visit DHEC’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention site.

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