It is a special Wellness Wednesday for it is my Uncle Will’s birthday. He would have been 43 years old today! Unfortunately, he died suddenly last year at the age of 42 as a result of heart disease leaving behind a wife and child.
Police brutality is not the only thing Black men should be worried about, but heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease was the leading cause of death of Black men in 2017 accounting for 23.7%, leading any other cause of death.
This statistic does not surprise me because for most of my life, I thought 60 was elderly age because both my grandfathers died right before their 60th birthday also due to heart disease. In fact, a few years ago when my Dad turned 60, I asked him how he felt, he said grateful because the men in his family to include his grandfather, father, and uncle did not live to see the age of 60.
The morbidity of Black males is a result of so many things such as lack of affordable health care, racial discrimination, poverty, poor health education, and bias in medicine. I have been pondering ways in which I can battle this silent crisis for Black men and also many Black women. I believe it starts in our own homes and communities. I only have one Black man in my house, which is my son Arinzechukwu and it is my desire to not have him succumb to death as a result of heart disease. In my effort to help him, this is what I emphasize to him:
Healthy eating is important, and that even if you do not appear fat that that does not mean you are healthy on the inside. Clogged arteries can happen to non-obese people too.
Physical check-ups are important, and I make sure he and his sister go to their yearly physicals and hope this habit is something they continue in their adulthood.
Verbalizing your pain is not a sign of weakness, and that if something hurts or does not feel right seeking medical attention does not make you less of a man.
Last, as a Black man, you have to advocate for yourself and the doctor is not always right in that you know your body and if their diagnosis of your problem/condition does not seem right, seek a second opinion or ask for additional tests. It is your health, and your right to do so especially with documented bias in medicine against African-Americans.
I believe that is is responsibility to fight this silent killer, heart disease in our own homes. I challenge you to think of ways you can save our community!