Brand SpotlightYour Healthy Family


Your Healthy Family: Alarming heart disease numbers in black women

Posted at 7:50 AM, Feb 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 07:50:15-05

Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. It kills one woman about every 80 seconds, and the number is even more alarming for black women.

In June of 2021, Yavon Griggin's busy life changed forever.

"It just kind of took on a whole different life of it's own," she said.

After battling high blood pressure for years, Griggin had a massive stroke.

"My life changed dramatically," she said.

She said she lost feeling on her entire left side. Her once busy life as mom, attorney, and President of her local sorority chapter were put on pause, and replaced with a new fight from inside her hospital room.

"I was in there for a month, where I learned to walk again, I had speech therapy, occupational therapy, trying to learn to get the use back," she said.

Griffin is among the 50 percent of black women over age 20 in the U.S. who have some type of heart disease. Even after adjusting for socioeconomic status, access to health care, and other medical conditions, researchers found when compared to white women, pregnant black women were 23 percent more likely to have a heart attack and 57 percent more likely to have a stroke.

Dr. Mary Beth Fisher is a cardiologist with the Women's Heart Health Program at UK Hospital. She said she sees the reality of those numbers play out every day.

"And a large percent of them aren't getting controlled, even if they are on medicine," she said.

Dr. Fisher said that's why health leaders are focused on education and helping people make lifestyle and diet changes so they don't add risk factors.

"I think education is power, and when women know better, they do better. So really sitting down and understanding those risks, understanding those goals, and then making adaptations," she said.

Like many other black women, Griffin had a strong family history of high blood pressure and heart disease.

"Both of my parents have high blood pressure. My husband's parents have high blood pressure," she said.

That's why she said it’s time to start challenging the community to talk more about this issue, and every health issue.