A recently released study from researchers at Emory University has found that younger Black women may be at greater risk of suffering from heart disease.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the study focused on 1,000 Black women across multiple age ranges in the Atlanta area. Data collected from their research revealed that Black women under the age of 40 showed high rates of behavior that could lead to potential heart disease, such as frequent fast food consumption and above average salt intake. They also found that across all ages Black women had higher blood pressure and body mass indexes.
“It just reinforces the point that preventative cardiovascular disease care needs to be implemented early in young Black women,” Dr. Nishant Vatsa, an internal medicine resident at Emory University Hospital and lead author of the study, told AJC.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death of both men and women in the United States, above cancer and respiratory illness. As Black women in Georgia suffer from some of the worst maternal mortality rates in the country, the findings regarding younger Black women’s risk of heart disease particularly alarmed the researchers behind the study.
The study proposes multiple solutions to help combat heart disease in Black women, such as providing telehealth and other health screening options to Black women at younger ages. Dr. Gina Price Lundberg, clinical director of Emory Women’s Heart Center, said that Black women are less likely to want to see a primary care physician. Considering the treatment they are likely to receive should they choose to visit one, that news doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise.
On a community level, the study suggested that neighborhoods introduce more grocery stores and markets that sell healthier food. It also added that there should be more areas within communities for Black women to exercise such as walking trails.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your health. As someone who spent a large chunk of their early 20s eating terribly, I know how easy it is to not really think about what you’re consuming. Making small changes, even something as simple going for an extended walk, can be instrumental in making sure your heart stays healthy.