Heart disease is a serious health problem for African American/Black communities. Some people believe that a heart attack or stroke happens suddenly when a person is suddenly scared, upset, or angered. But the truth is that heart disease builds up over many years and often starts at a young age. There are many risk factors for heart disease:
  • High Blood Pressure (hypertension): High blood pressure increases the heart's workload, causing the arteries to thicken and become stiffer.
  • Tobacco Smoke: Smokers' risk of developing coronary heart disease is 2-4 times that of nonsmokers.
  • High Cholesterol: As LDL (‘bad cholesterol’) rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Physical Inactivity: An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. 
  • Obesity and Overweight: People who have excess body fat — especially at the waist — are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
When your blood pressure is high, your heart must work harder. While no one is sure why,African Americans/Black people have one of the highest blood pressure rates in the world (43.0% of African American/Black men and 45.7% of AfricanAmerican/Black women have high blood pressure).

A blood pressure screening is an important way to care for your family’s heart health. 
Heart Disease Facts. Center for Disease Control and Prevention
High Blood Pressure Facts. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. November 30, 2016. 
National Urban League, Project Wellness, Chronic Health Diseases in the African American Community
Get your blood pressure checked each year or as your doctor suggests and recheck high readings at home with a blood pressure monitor. Know your numbers. (Reference: US Preventive Services Task Force)
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  • "I don't have a doctor."

    Here are some online tools to help you find a doctor or nurse in your community: (i) National Medical Association (NMA) Physician Locator. The NMA represents African American/Black doctors and can help you find an African American/Black doctor in your area. (ii) HRSA Health Centers. Contact HRSA to make an appointment or get a blood pressure screening (877-464-4772). HRSA provides care even if you have no health insurance. Open weekdays 8am to8pm Eastern Time (except federal holidays). Visit your insurance plan’s website to find a doctor in your area. Most health insurance providers have a “Find a Doctor” feature on their websites.
  • "I don't have time to get screened."

    Luckily, a blood pressure screening doesn’t take long. Many local drug stores offer screenings in their pharmacy section, including WalgreensCVS, and Kroger’s. So, the next time you’re at the drugstore, stop by the pharmacy and see if they’ll check your blood pressure.
  • "I'm worried about what others might think."

    Chances are you’re not the only one in your family, circle of friends or community with high blood pressure (hypertension). But if you’re feeling alone, the American Heart Association has a Support Network to connect you with other people affected by heart disease. The American Heart Association offers a free magazine for heart patients and their families called HeartInsight.
  • "I don't know where to go to get screened."

    Your family doctor or nurse can provide blood pressure screenings. If you don’t have a doctor or don’t have time to get to a doctor’s appointment, many local drug stores offer screenings in their pharmacy section, including Walgreens, CVS, and Kroger’sHRSA HealthCenters can do blood pressurescreenings even if you have no health insurance. (877-464-4772) HRSA centersare open weekdays, 8am to 8pm Eastern Time (except federal holidays).
  • "I can't get to a screening appointment."

    Getting to your blood pressure screening can be hard, but don’t let this stop you. It’s important. If public transportation is not practical, mobile apps like Uber and Lyft may provide door-to-door service to and from your appointment for less than the cost of a taxi.Or ask a friend or family member for help! See if someone you know can give you a ride.
  • "I'm worried about the cost."

    Blood pressure tests are covered by insurance. Depending on your insurance, you may be able to have a doctor or nurse check your blood pressure for free. There are also pharmacies/drug stores, local health fairs and community events that often offer free blood pressure screenings. Search “upcoming health events” online. If your doctor recommends a prescription medicine to help lower your blood pressure and you are concerned about the cost, you may be able to find financial help at Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) or Needy Meds.
  • "I'm scared it will hurt."

    The good news is that blood pressure screenings usually don’t hurt. If you are concerned about any pain during your screening, share your concerns and ask your provider before your visit what you can expect during the screening.
  • "I'm worried my doctor will find something."

    Heart disease happens over many years. When blood pressure stays high over time, it can damage the body and cause serious problems—even death. So, it’s better to know if you have high blood pressure as early as possible. To learn more, visit www.heart.org.
  • "I need help quitting smoking."

    Smoking cessation programs may be covered by your insurance. You can find many free smoking cessation and support resources on the weblike SmokeFree.gov orWebMD's Smoking Cessation Health Center.