Healthy 100: Heart disease and hypertension in Africans

Why are Africans in America suffering from heart disease? Why is there a disproportionately higher rate of hypertension and diabetes (risk factors for heart disease) among us compared to white people?
Although infectious diseases are still the number one leading cause of death in Africa, with the so-called urbanization of Africa, we are now seeing a rise in heart disease.
Hypertension not our inheritance
It was not always this way. There are studies that looked at the Kalahari Bushmen and unlike North Americans and Europeans, as the Bushmen aged, their blood pressures did NOT increase.
This finding was not unique to these nomads but also to other groups in Kenya and Uganda. Why are these old studies important now?
The authors of a recent study looking at cardiovascular trends in Africa, trying to explain whether hypertension is a matter of genetics versus environment suggest "Clearly not external genetic similarities, nor diet, nor the level of physical exercise, nor lack of stress (imagine the daily lives of early tribesmen), but rather the socioeconomic independence from “Western civilization.”
These observations show how lifestyle can affect blood pressure and, hence, cardiovascular outcome,
which brings us back to 21st Century America.
Organizing is key to healthier living
The current lifestyle of constant oppression has taken its toll on Africans in America. White people have similar risk factors (lack of physical exercise, poor eating habits) but yet they are not equally affected by heart disease.
We must realize it is not enough to say stop smoking, eat fruits and vegetables and exercise so you can be healthy.
Granted those things are important. We must realize, however, that our socioeconomic environment must change in order for us to have a real, lasting impact on our health. The only way this will happen is by organizing to create an independent socioeconomic structure like our forefathers.

Onward to Freedom and Health!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


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