By Natalia Gurevich, Communications Intern
Heart disease is the number one killer for women. Almost one in four women die from heart disease  with African American women affected at a disproportionate rate, at over 49 percent aged 20 and older suffering from heart disease .
The most common form of heart disease is coronary heart disease, which is more prevalent in African American women . Often referred to interchangeably with heart disease, it is a condition with blood vessels in the heart, and can lead to a heart attack . Heart disease lasts a lifetime, and worsens depending on certain lifestyle choices and risk factors .
Heart disease is caused by a wide variety of risk factors including diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, obesity, and especially family history of heart disease and high blood pressure .
High blood pressure in African Americans is more severe and develops earlier in life . In fact, more than 40 percent of African Americans suffer from high blood pressure, and about 37 percent of black women have high blood pressure [1,2].
However, there are solutions. According to the National Institutes of Health, women are able to lower their chance of heart disease as much as 82 percent by making healthy choices . One in five African American women smoke cigarettes. Just by quitting they can significantly diminish their risk for heart disease . Other risk factors, like high cholesterol, obesity and inactivity can also be solved by a healthier and more active lifestyle .
SWHR encourages women, especially those more susceptible to heart disease, to take steps to decrease their risk during Heart Health Month. Contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions. For more information about heart disease in women, visit here.
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The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR ®) is a national non-profit based in Washington D.C. that is widely recognized as the thought-leader in promoting research on biological differences in disease and is dedicated to transforming women’s health through science, advocacy, and education.