Man to Man: Heart to Heart
Roosevelt a long-time smoker, had a heart attack at age 45. He endured six surgeries, including heart bypass surgery to fix the damage to his heart caused by smoking. Now smoke-free, Roosevelt encourages others to quit smoking as a way to reduce their risk of heart disease.
"A heart attack feels like a hand inside squeezing your heart," he said. "It's like the worst Charley horse you can imagine—in your heart."
About 1 in 5 African American adults smokes cigarettes.5 CDC's Tips from Former Smokers campaign recently shined a spotlight on this statistic and the links between smoking and heart disease among African American men.
"If you have loved ones who care about you, they will support you. Take it one day at a time," Roosevelt said.
This approach can work not only for people who want to quit smoking, but for those who are trying to eat better, exercise, and control their high blood pressure—all ways to help reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke. A strong support system[649 KB] also helps.
African American Men: Take Note
While heart disease doesn't discriminate, your gender, race, ethnicity, and where you live can increase your risk. African American men are at the highest risk for heart disease. About 2 in 5 African Americans have high blood pressure, but only half have it under control.3 A recent article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine also showed that Americans aged 30 to 74 who live the Southeast—specifically, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia—are at higher risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years than people who live in other parts of the country.4 Many of these states have a large African American population.
Resources to Help You and Your Loved Ones Make Control the Goal
More information about high blood pressure is available at CDC's High Blood Pressure website. In addition, the following resources are available to help you and your loved ones make control your goal: