Your heart health risks

Everyone should be aware of the risk factors for heart disease. While diet, exercise and giving up smoking are part of the story, you also need to watch out for diabetes, blood pressure and high cholesterol.

African Caribbean people are especially at risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, so it's important for you and your family to go for regular checkups with your doctor.

Prevent and manage diabetes

Diabetes testMore common in African Caribbean communities in the UK than the general population, Type 2 diabetes can significantly increase your risk of getting heart disease.

However, you can greatly reduce your risk of getting diabetes by eating healthily, staying a healthy weight and body shape and doing regular physical activity.

If you do have diabetes, it’s very important to make sure your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol are under control.

Look out for your blood pressure

Woman Blood pressure

People from African Caribbean communities have the highest risk of developing high blood pressure in comparison to other ethnic groups in the UK.

Why is blood pressure important?

High blood pressure is just one of the risk factors for heart disease or having a stroke, along with high cholesterol levels, diabetes and other lifestyle factors. As high blood pressure rarely has any symptoms to warn you, it is important that you know what causes it and that you know what yours is. It is thought that there are lots of people in the UK walking around, with high blood pressure but they don't know about it.

How do I know if I have high blood pressure?

The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to have it measured.

We recommend that everyone over 40 gets their blood pressure taken by a nurse or doctor as part of a risk assessment for heart and circulatory disease.

If your doctor or nurse says you have high blood pressure, he/she is likely to encourage you to make some lifestyle changes such as cutting back on alcohol, stopping smoking and keeping a healthy diet and increasing help reduce it like we have mentioned above.

Be aware of strokes

African Caribbean man washing carPeople of African Caribbean origin are twice as likely to have a stroke in comparison to the general UK population.

What causes stroke?

Your brain gets the oxygen and nutrients it needs from the blood pumped by the heart through the arteries in your neck.

A stroke happens when the artery carrying blood to your brain is blocked (known as an ischaemic stroke), or an artery bleeds into your brain (an haemorrhagic stroke).

Strokes affect the way your body and brain works. They can affect your speech, ability to swallow and how you move. There are simple lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the risk of having a stroke.

What to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke

If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, act FAST. FAST helps people recognise the signs of a stroke and take immediate action. You can find more information on FAST from the NHS website.

  • Facial weakness - can they smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
  • Arm weakness - can they raise both arms?
  • Speech problems - can they speak clearly and understand what you are saying?
  • Time to call 999

For more information on stroke and its symptoms visit the Stroke Association website or call 08450 303 3100.

This information does not replace the advice that your doctor or nurse may give you, but we hope it will provide you with additional information and support.