Children who grow up in lower-income households are showing greater risk of heart disease later in life, says a recent study.
Heart disease continues to be the number one killer for adult African-Americans, with battles of strokes following in at a close second, according the American Heart Association (AHA), which conducted the study along with the American Stroke Association (ASA).
“Community leaders need to focus on giving kids a healthy start from birth, healthy schools as they grow up, and healthy communities for families to thrive,” said former American Heart Association President Clyde Yancy. “Every child needs and deserves the opportunity to grow up healthy. Fortunately, we have the tools to improve heart health across the lifespan by ensuring every child has healthy foods to eat and safe places to be active.”
Though most of the observational study took place in Australia and focused on children in socially and economically disadvantaged families and neighborhoods, the results still showed that youth in poverty-stricken areas appear more likely to have thicker carotid artery walls, which supplies blood to the brain, and thus have an increased chance of heart disease, the Journal of the American Heart Association reported.
“We know that socioeconomically disadvantaged people are at greater risk of health problems, including more cardiovascular disease earlier in life, and we also know that atherosclerosis [an artery disease] is a lifelong process that starts in childhood,” David P. Burgner, senior study author and senior research fellow at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, said in a statement.
In D.C., blacks account for 50 percent of the population, the majority of whom reside in Wards 7 and 8, which are considerably more economically challenged than other areas of the city.
Winston Gandy, a cardiologist and chief medical marketing officer with the Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta and a volunteer with the AHA, urged those concerned “go get checked out.”
“Get checked, then work with your medical professional on your specific risk factors and the things that you need to do to take care of your personal health,” Gandy said.
In addition to the research done on demographics more likely to be affected by these heart diseases, the AHA released another report that specifically outlined key contributors associated with African-Americans and heart disease, including high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
“You can’t do anything about your family history, but you can control your blood pressure,” Gandy said. “Make vegetables the main part of the meal and fill up with those rather than other foods.”