One of the best gifts in life is good health.  Today, let’s take some time to focus in on the steps African American women can take to improve their health and longevity.

Dr. Mitchell Wainwright, a family medicine physician with OptumCare Medical Group in Ladera Ranch, California, and former college football player who played safety for Cal Berkeley joins ‘Get Well Wednesday” with information about the link between obesity and hypertension among African-American women and some lifestyle changes to boost health.

WHY IS IT HARDER TO LOSE WEIGHT AS WE GET OLDER AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?

  Is weight gain inevitable with aging?  The answer is no.  The best way to prevent weight gain is to adjust food portions due to decreased activity.  The metabolism begins to slow down in the late 20’s, by approximately 150 calories a day.  One way to offset that is to eat less.

To maintain strength:

An inactive female should eat approximately 1,600 calories per day.

An inactive male should eat approximately 1,800 calories per day.

An active female should eat approximately 1,900 calories a day.

An active male should eat approximately 2,200 calories per day.

There is no connection between menopause and weight gain.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN THINGS WE CAN DO TO AVOID DEVELOPING HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?

 Some of the best ways to avoid hypertension is to decrease sodium intake, manage weight, exercise, reduce stress and avoid alcohol, smoking and junk foods.  It is also important to take medications as prescribed by the doctor.

There are a variety of ways to exercise and reduce stress.    Moderate exercise activities should be performed for at least 150 minutes per week or vigorous exercise for at least 75 minutes per week.  Yoga, baths and walks are also good ways to reduce stress.

 WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO BLOOD PRESSURE NUMBERS AND WHAT’S CONSIDERED A NORMAL BLOOD PRESSURE?

 The top number is the systolic.  It measures the blood pressure of the vessels as it leaves the heart.  The bottom number measures the blood pressure in the heart.

For example, normal blood pressure is generally considered from 120/80 to 139/85 this is considered stage I.

140/86 to 159/99 is not normal and is considered stage 2.

160/100 to 179/109 is stage 3.

180/110 and over is considered stage 4, stage 4 is considered a medical emergency and must be brought down slowly.

 CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DASH EATING PLAN?

 The Dash Eating Plan was developed by the National Institutes of Health to lower blood pressure without medication.It is a lifelong dietary approach to healthy eating to help prevent or treat hypertension.  The diet focuses on decreasing sodium intake and eating foods that lower blood pressure such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

There are two types of Dash diets.  They are:

1-      Standard dash-limit to 2,300 mg of sodium per day

2-      Low sodium dash- limit to 1,500 mg of sodium per day

Typical American diet contains 3,400 mg of sodium per day.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH STATISTICS FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN?

A: Heart disease, stroke and diabetes are interconnected conditions that put women’s health at major risk, and Black women are especially endangered.

  • Around 7.6 percent of black women have heart disease, compared to 5.8 percent of white women.
  • 6 percent of Mexican American women, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2011-2013.
  • In 2016, around 46 of every 100,000 black women died from strokes, while 35 of every 100,000 white women did.
  • While white women’s diabetes diagnosis rate is 5.4 per 100, that number is 9.9 per 100 for black women, according to CDC data from 1980-2014—almost double.

It’s well documented that the prevalence of high blood pressure for African Americans is the highest in the world.

Four in five African American women are obese or overweight, according to the U.S. Office of Minority Health. In fact, African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S.

This can lead to a host of other health problems from high blood pressure (hypertension) to heart disease and stroke. Black women not only carry more weight, but they start adding extra pounds years before their white counterparts.

WHAT IS THE HEALTH IMPACT OF OBESITY?

People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, diabetes and LDL cholesterol — all risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

In 2015, African Americans were 20% less likely to engage in active physical activity as Non-Hispanic whites.

 WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?

Hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common and dangerous condition. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.

WHY ARE AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN AT A HIGHER RISK OF STROKE?

Some researchers think African Americans may be more sensitive to the effects of salt, which in turn increases the risk for developing high blood pressure. African Americans should reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day.

The American Heart Association also recognizes the link between stressful life events and heart disease in older African American women. In one study, postmenopausal African American women at ages 55 and 65 who experienced significant life events such as the death of a spouse or close friend, divorce, abuse, job loss, or major financial problems were more likely experience stroke, heart disease and congestive heart failure.

Finally, a lack of exercise as children puts young African American girls at a disadvantage at early ages, a pattern that often continues into adulthood.

 HOW DO CHILDHOOD BEHAVIORS GROW INTO A LIFELONG STRUGGLE?

A: Experts want kids to exercise at least 60 minutes every day. But among all children, black girls are most likely to report that they got no physical activity in the past week. One big reason for this may be lack of access to exercise opportunities.

HOW DOES THIS PATTERN CONTINUE AS GIRLS GET OLDER?

A: A National Institutes of Health study that followed girls for 10 years, beginning at age 8 or 9, found that, over time, leisure-time physical activity declined dramatically. That drop off was steepest for African Americans girls.

WHAT IS A STROKE?

A: A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When brain cells are starved of oxygen, they die. Stroke is a medical emergency. It’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. A delay in treatment increases the risk of permanent brain damage or death.

WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF A STROKE?

According to the American Stroke Association, signs include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

 WHAT SHOULD OUR LISTENERS DO IF THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE EXPERIENCING A STROKE?

A: If you think you or someone you’re with may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:

  • F—Face: Does one side of the face droop when smiling?
  • A—Arms: Raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S—Speech: Is the speech slurred or strange?
  • T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

Call an ambulance right away so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room. Some treatments for stroke work only if given within the first 3 hours after symptoms start.

Dr. Wainwright answers your “Text Tom” questions below:

Doctor – since we know scientifically that there is a disparity between African American and Caucasian women, why don’t they use two different BMI charts?

Body Mass Index (BMI), is nothing more than a tool, an imperfect tool, it doesn’t take into account body composition, muscle mass, or bone density.  That being said, you should know if you are obese; don’t rely on a chart to tell you this.

What about thyroid removal  – my energy level is gone what do I do about that?

Have your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) checked. Without thyroid hormone supplementation you may gain weight and have lower energy levels.

Doctor, my mom had uncontrollable high blood pressure and she is nowhere near obese. She ate healthy and on July 31 suffered a brain hemorrhage. She still hasn’t woken up. How could this have been prevented?

Prayers for your mom.  Hypertension is a silent killer, sometimes you don’t find out you have hypertension until a Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA), Myocardial Infraction (MI), Renal Failure or other event occurs. Primary Hypertension is the cause of high blood pressure in 95% of the known cases. It’s a result of lifestyle (smoking, high salt intake, obesity or heavy drinking) and genetics (family history).  I suggest all of your  family members get checked.

I’m 47 and I have tried eating right and exercising but I don’t see the weight loss. Why is that?

Eating right means low carbohydrates, high lean protein, high greens.  Also if your exercise is the same thing daily your body gets used to it and will adapt, thus less weight loss.

What about Black women taking meds for depression and anxiety? Does that add on the pounds even when you try to eat well and workout?

Yes, medications for anxiety and depression will add weight.  Ask your doctor to change to medications that don’t have this side effect.

How do you manage weight loss while dealing with thyroid disease?

As long as your TSH levels are normal, there should be no problem in controlling your weight. Think less carbs, higher protein diet.

I have lost 70 pounds and need to lose 5 more, which I am struggling with. I feel I have increased exercise & eat 1 large salad & a veggie/fruit smoothie in the morning what can I do?

Change up your exercise routine, mix high intensity with normal intensity exercises, also add protein to your AM smoothie and less sugar.

So can HBP really be genetic? I’m temporarily on amlodipine but…I refuse to be on it long-term.

Apples fall of apple trees, if your genetic background is Hypertension then you will also have Hypertension. Own it, take your meds and live long, don’t own it and you will have a bad outcome.

Can hypertension affect women that are not overweight? Can it be controlled by diet or is medication needed?

Yes, hypertension can affect anybody, even teenagers.  Try the DASH diet, it works.

I’m 51 and in the past 3 years, I have gained 50 pounds. I work out and eat right but can’t get rid of the weight. My GYN says that it IS hormonal and is a part of menopause.

Menopause doesn’t cause weight gain. At 51, you should start cutting down on your caloric intake to about 1,600 calories per day.

 

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