Doctors encourage families to talk about heart health

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NEW YORK — As you’re put your heart into getting just the right gift for your loved ones this Christmas and making their favorite dishes, doctors want African-Americans to think about their heart health.

African-Americans are 20 times more likely than Whites to develop heart failure before the age of 50.

“We know that African-Americans are at higher risk for high blood pressure, diabetes. We have more overweight and obesity, this risk factors it turns out drives some of the problems we have with heart failure.”

Internationally renown Researcher and Doctor Elizabeth Ofili said lifestyle is so important. African-Americans must stop smoking, get regular exercise and change this kind of diet.

“Diet that’s high in fats, processed foods, meats, and unfortunately African-American diets are also lower in things like fruits and vegetables”

But she said lifestyle isn’t the only reason why black men and women are at much higher risk for heart failure than whites. Physiology or body chemistry and function is another reason.

“There’s some genetic predispositions. It is important that African- American patients understand that the reason sometimes that we need different therapies”

In particular she said studies show that black heart patients benefit from a combination drug called Bidil when taken much earlier in treatment for heart problems.

“Gather around the holiday table, talk to each other about what are the risk factors because we know that if we can get better treatment and get knowledge and get screened we will all have many, many, many happy years celebrating together.”