As the world mourns the loss of legendary film director, John Singleton, there are a few things we should discuss about the state of health for African Americans. It’s no secret that African Americans have a higher risk of heart-related illnesses, diabetes and strokes; however, some of the very things we love the most about our culture are killing us, literally.
There are certain mindsets, behaviors, and habits that we need to leave behind in order to reduce the likelihood of being subjected to deadly diseases. Smoking, alcohol abuse, illegal drug use, stress, depression, poor diet, obesity and access to quality medical care contribute to major risk factors of strokes and other illnesses. Contrary to what we consider acceptable; having high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight and suffering with unmanaged stress and/or mental health issues are not normal and shouldn’t be taken lightly or deemed as a qualifier for being “black.” In no way is anyone placing blame on an individual for their illness, especially given the various socioeconomic and systemic issues that plague the Black community through poverty and access to healthcare. However, when you know better, you have a responsibility to do better. Also, if you have a family history of these diseases, you are more likely to be genetically predisposed to the same health concerns so healthy changes today, can contribute to saving your life later.
In addition to prevention, it’s vital to know the signs of someone who may be experiencing a Stroke. Always call 911 for immediate medical attention and remember the acronym FAST.
F- FACE, ask if the person can smile and look to see if one side droops.
A- ARMS, ask if the person can raise their arms and notice if one arm has difficulty rising.
S- SPEECH, ask a question, is their speech slurred or does it sound incoherent?
T- TIME, if you notice any of the above, call 911 immediately. Every second counts.