Nebraska Office of Men's Health

Heart Disease and Race

Examples of Important Disparities:
Overall, minority and low-income populations have a disproportionate burden of death and disability from CVD. African Americans have the highest rate of high blood pressure of all groups and tend to develop it younger than others. Studies have shown that socioeconomic status, reflected in income and education, underlie a substantial portion, but not all, of the higher rate of heart disease in minority populations.

What is the Goal?
The target date for eliminating disparities is 2010. CDC and other public health agencies will continue efforts to reduce the overall death rates from heart disease and stroke and disparities among all racial and ethnic groups. Two goals have been set:
  • reduce deaths from heart disease among African Americans by 30 percent
  • reduce deaths from strokes among African Americans by 47 percent

What can Individuals do to Decrease Their Risk of Developing CVD?
The most effective steps all people can take to prevent CVD and stroke are as follows:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet, including five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Exercise regularly, such as brisk walking at least 30 minutes on five or more days of the week
  • Reduce stress
  • Control high blood pressure
  • Control cholesterol
  • Control your weight
  • People known to be at risk of CVD should see a physician regularly.

Public health agencies aim to reduce heart disease deaths among certain American Indian tribes, selected Asian American ethnic populations, and Hispanic or Latino subgroups having death rates higher than the national average.

Promising Strategies:
Modifying risk factors offers the greatest potential for reducing CVD morbidity, disability, and mortality: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking tobacco, excessive body weight, and physical inactivity. Prevention programs have been set up in states with high rates of CVD to implement policy and environmental strategies to increase levels of physical activity, availability of heart-healthy foods, and to decrease rates of smoking among minority populations. Changes have been advocated in schools, worksites, and other community-based organizations, and have been publicized by government and the media.

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