Doctor Works to Raise Awareness of Heart Disease in Black Communities
February is American Heart Month. It’s also Black History Month, which is why a local doctor is working to raise awareness about heart disease and its impact on African-Americans.
Heart disease is a term that encompasses any problem with your heart, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease or diabetes. It’s also a disease that disproportionately impacts Black communities.
“The reasons for this, there’s a long list of reasons, but it really starts with recognizing that there are these disparities,” said Dr. Mosi Bennett, a cardiologist from the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Allina Health. “Recognizing there are issues in terms of the social determinants of health and access to care, recognizing that there’s also issues of bias in health care. But it starts really with education and awareness.”
Dr. Bennett says Black men have rates of heart failure three times that of their white counterparts.
He says that if you’re experiencing symptoms like chest discomfort, worsening shortness of breath with your usual activities, or pressure in your chest when you exert yourself, those could be signs of heart trouble. People should tell their doctor if they have those symptoms.
Know your numbers to optimize cardiovascular health
Dr. Bennett also encourages people to know your numbers in terms of blood pressure and cholesterol levels, so that if they’re elevated they can be addressed.
Meanwhile, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation.
“During the past year we’ve seen that folks have ignored some of their usual heart related health issues, put them off, delayed getting care or seeking care,” Dr. Bennett said. “And that really just is compounding some of the issues that we see in the midst of this pandemic.”
Dr. Bennett says exercise is another important tool in the fight against heart disease. He recommends people get 30 minutes of exercise every day.