by Michael P. Coleman
May is National Stroke Awareness month, and for some reason I’m compelled to get the word out about African Americans and stroke. Perhaps it’s my own battle with hypertension — until 3 years ago, I ended a successful 40+ year run with LOW blood pressure and clocked in at 165 / 95. For the last few years I’ve been monitoring my diet (eliminating sodium almost entirely), exercising more, checking my blood pressure a few times a week, and taking a daily dose of Lisinopril.
I was blessed to interview singer / songwriter Angela Bofill earlier this year. Bofill’s a double stroke survivor, and she spoke candidly about her health and rehabilitation. After our conversation, I put my helmet on and took a 45-minute bike ride along the American River in Sacramento. In the rain.
Three main risk factors for stroke are hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. Hang on to that information for a second.
According to the American Heart Association (heart.org), the African American community should be paying even more attention to stroke, its risk factors, and warning signs than the general population. Let me tell you why:
• African Americans have almost twice the risk of first-ever strokes compared to whites
• African Americans have higher death rates for stroke compared to whites
• The prevalence of high blood pressure (one of the main risk factors of stroke) in African Americans in the United States is the highest in the world
• African American women have higher prevalence rates of high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes than white women
Convinced that the issue warrants your attention? Good. powertoendstroke.org is a wealth of information about risk factors, warning signs, and strategies for avoiding stroke.
Thanks, Ms. Bofill, for waking me up regarding stroke.
Do me a favor: wake up someone you know, and forward this article to anyone who may need to be enlightened about stroke. You just might save a life today.
Michael P. Coleman’s latest blood pressure reading was 117 / 79. He’s down to just 5mg of Lisinopril daily, and his goal’s to get off of the meds completely by the end of the year. Reach out to him at , on Twitter at @ColemanMichaelP, or at , or look for him on his bike along the American River.