AHA on Black Women and the Mental Health Crisis

Mary Fein Communications Director – New Orleans & Baton Rouge American Heart Association

Black women are facing an overwhelming mental health crisis which impacts their heart health, mental health, and overall well-being. The Global Health Pandemic and the calls for racial and social justice emerging from the murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans laid bare to the rest of society the health disparities the Black community has long endured. While Black Americans are suffering through a cycle of grief and emotional distress, Black women, who are also at high risk for heart disease, are suffering a mental health battle that isn’t widely discussed.Additionally, Black adults in the U.S. are at higher risk for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases compared to White Americans according to preliminary research recently presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2022. However, the risk of death from stroke and other types of cardiovascular disease, as well as all causes of death, may vary among Black adults born in the U.S. versus those who are born elsewhere.

“Previous reports have suggested that despite having low socio-economic status and limited access to health care, immigrants around the world are generally healthier, a benefit that tends to dissipate the longer they live in the host country,” said Study Author Alain Lekoubou Looti, M.D., M.S., an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

For too long, Black women in particular have existed in a cycle of trauma, from racial injustices to the Global Pandemic, which impacts their physical and mental health. Black women are at a high risk for heart disease and cardiovascular disease, and we know mental health is tied to physical health. And one out of two Black and Hispanic adults have some form of cardiovascular disease.

We can define a new way forward for ourselves. Like taking a familiar song and adding, removing, or changing pieces of it, Black women have been empowered with greater knowledge and determination to heal and protect their physical and mental health and well-being – a remix. A way to Reclaim Your Rhythm. Not just this month, but every day moving forward.

Through additional small lifestyle adjustments such as getting enough exercise, eating healthfully, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking – which can go a long way to reduce these statistics and lead to longer, healthier lives for our loved ones. Learn more at http://www.heart.org

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