Black Americans

What Black Americans Need to Know About Heart Disease

You may know that heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States. But did you know that the risks are even higher for Black Americans?

Fast Facts: Black Americans & Heart Disease

  • Black Americans are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke than White Americans.1
  • Black women (49%) and Black men (44%) have higher rates of heart disease than White men (37%) and White women (32%).1
  • Between the ages of 45 and 64, Black men have a 70% higher risk and Black women have a 50% greater risk of developing heart failure than White men and women.2
  • The earlier onset of heart failure means higher rates of hospitalization, earlier disability, and higher rates of premature death (death before the age of 65) for Black Americans.2
  • The annual rate of first heart attacks and first strokes is higher for Black Americans than White Americans.1

Fast Facts: Black Americans & Risk Factors

  • The prevalence of high blood pressure (hypertension) in Black Americans is among the highest in the world, and it is increasing. Rates are particularly high for Black women.1
  • In addition, Blacks develop high blood pressure earlier in life and their average blood pressure numbers are much higher than Whites. As a result, Blacks have a 1.3-times greater rate of nonfatal stroke, a 1.8-times greater rate of fatal stroke, a 1.5-times greater rate of death attributable to heart disease than Whites.1
  • Black Americans are 77% more likely than White Americans to be diagnosed with diabetes.1
  • Black and Hispanic adults are more likely to be inactive 39.4% and 39.8%, respectively) than White adults (26.2%).1
  • Black (80%) and Mexican-American (78%) women are more likely to be overweight or obese than White women (60%).

Take Charge of Your Heart Health 

Although the statistics above paint a troubling picture of Black Americans and heart disease, all is not lost! There are three simple things you can do to reduce your risk for heart disease, starting today.

  1. Know your risk factors. Although your can't change your age or heredity, there are many other risk factors for heart disease that you can control.
  2. Talk to your doctor. At your next doctor's appointment, bring our list of questions and a heart health scorecard to help assess your risk for heart disease.
  3. Reduce your risk. Making simple, healthy lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for heart disease.

Related Resources

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This information is not a substitute for medical care. Please consult a doctor or health care provider.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors for heart disease. Bring this list of questions to your next appointment.

Review questions to ask your doctor

Did You Know? Hypertension & Blacks

Black Americans are more likely to have high blood pressure (hypertension), develop it earlier, and have more severe cases. Learn how to reduce your risk from Heartistry, a patient education resource from Boston Scientific.

Prevent high blood pressure

Spread the Word

Help us Close the Gap! Use our resources to help members of your community reduce their risk factors for heart disease.

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What's Your Risk?

Use our assessment tool to find out if you're at risk for developing heart disease.

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20% by 2020

The Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) is committed to reducing the cardiovascular disparity gap by 20% by 2020.

Learn more from ABC