- Published on Wednesday, 26 December 2012 03:05
- Written by Jackie Jones, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Got questions about heart health? Text them to "646464" (OHOHOH).
There is an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is a message that B. Waine Kong takes to heart.
The psychologist and contributing editor and consultant for Black Health Matters believes that black Americans should receive great medical care when warranted, but that it is more important to teach those who are not affected by disease to prevent it and reduce their individual risk factors.
As BlackAmericaWeb.com has pointed out before, black Americans have poor health outcomes in nearly every major disease indicator, either being at higher risk for developing a disease or being more likely to die from it.
In addition to a lack of access to health insurance or, especially in rural areas, easy access to medical personnel, many black Americans lack awareness about ways to prevent disease from developing.
Black Health Matters provides information about health and well-being from a service-oriented perspective–with lots of upbeat, positive solutions and tips from the latest health and medical news to beauty and lifestyle information.
Kong, the former CEO of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC), played an instrumental role in setting up hypertension clinics in churches and barbershops, which have trained more than 10,000 people to check blood pressure and make referrals to a doctor, if necessary. He has also created platforms to train doctors to be culturally sensitive when treating black patients.
“Dying from a heart attack or stroke is no longer a fact of life that we have to accept,” Kong wrote in a recent blog. “Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and other chronic conditions consume too much of our health-care expenditures. Preventive care reduces needless suffering and premature death, improves the quality of care, enhances the quality of our lives and lowers costs. Yet, comparatively very little of our health-care dollars are spent on ‘prevention.’”
Kong recommends seven basic steps to help people remain heart healthy:
• Be spiritually active – Kong cites a University of Texas study that found that people who attend church regularly live seven to 14 years longer than those who do not.
• Manage your blood pressure – The aim is to keep your pressure as close to 120/80 as possible.
• Control your cholesterol – High cholesterol leads to plaque, which restricts the flow of blood.
• Maintain your ideal weight and monitor your blood sugar – Obesity and diabetes go hand-in-hand and by maintaining one’s weight wand limiting the amount of fat and sugar in the diet, it becomes easier to prevent the diseases. Kong notes that three out of four diabetics die from heart disease and stroke.
• Exercise regularly – 30 minutes per day, every day, followed by a sensible diet and a good night’s rest.
• Don’t smoke – If you do smoke, quit. It you don’t smoke, don’t start. Smoking constricts the arteries, increases carbon monoxide in the body and reduces the good cholesterol.
• Get a checkup – Visit your doctor regularly and, if you are on medication, take it as prescribed.
“If you are dissatisfied with the care you are receiving, seek care elsewhere,” Kong wrote. “More importantly, it does no good for you to be evaluated by a physician, have your condition diagnosed and medication prescribed if you do not then fill the prescription and take it as directed.”
Is one of the 7 steps more important than another?
I hope it doesn't come as a surprise to you that we are spiritual beings. So, I believe number one is the most important. We cannot go wrong putting God first. I believe we underestimate the impact that spirituality has on our physical health: In addition to God's grace, meditation, contemplation, singing, praying and enjoying the company of like believers is a blessing. According to Dr. Robert Hummer's study, African Americans who go to church regularly live 14 years longer than those who have never darken the steps of a church. More than anything else, it helps us cope with the adversities of life. People who attend worship services regularly, have more successful children, marriages and careers.
Why do African Americans need a health site like Black Health Matters?
We need to close the Black-White Death Gap. Becauae African American die earlier than everyone else and from preventable illnesses. We need a place that concentrates the wealth of medical wisdom we have accumulated over the ages and give seekers of good health quick access. The life expectancy of African Americans has increased 100% over the past one hundred years but still lags behind whites and new immigrants. The only ethnic group that has health and mortality issues as bad as African Americans is Native Americans. The increase in longevity has come about NOT just because of advances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease but also because of groups like the Association of Black Cardiologist who have emphasized the need to look at the disparities of health outcomes. We need a system of health in the United States not just a system of health care. Additionally improvements in health have occured because of good public health and an emphasis on the spiritual needs of human beings. But we can do better. BlackHealthMatters will help to accilerate this progress. Most of us really can live to be 100! Our children should know their grandparents so they will become great grandparents themselves.
Why did you get involved in Black Health Matters and what is your mission?
Whether I am working with ZOe Pediatrics in Thomaston, GA., with BlackHealthMatters and with everyone I encounter, my mission is to do what I can to improve the longivity and quality of life for everyone. I believe I have picked up some excellent bits of information (particiularly from my 21 years as the CEO of the Association of Black Cardiologists), that helped me to be truly healthy in my 70 years on this planet and would love everyone to be as happy and healthy as I am. I can still hit a golf ball 250 years but who am I going to play with if my friends leave too soon!
In the past, heart disease was viewed as unavoidable, is that still true?
Absent the genetic propensities of a few, the greatest truth I have learned is that heart disease, which accounts for 50% of deaths in the world, is preventable. It is never too early or too late to implement the Seven Steps to a Lifetime of Good Health. These guidelines are literally the proverbial fountain of youth. While we didn't come here to stay forever, we can certainly look forward to a long productive life by implementing these strategies.
How many African Americans will be saved each year by preventing Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and other chronic conditions?
If you subtract these issues in our life, sixty percent of us could live to 100! If you also subtract cancers, 80% of us could realistically expect to be health past 100. When you talk to anyone who has been blessed to live past 100, they ALL reveal that the "secret" was: "He brought me this far by faith."
Is there a certain food group that helps with cholesterol levels?
I regularly eat oatmeal and as much fruits and vegetables as I can. As I mentioned on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, a half dozen celebrations per year (Christmas, wedings, birthdays and family reunions when we go overboard with food and libation is not the problem. The problem is that we can now afford to have these celebrations EVERY DAY. Moderation my friends. We can do very well with 1800 calories per day but many of us consume 1800 calories per meal. According to Dr. Malcolm Taylor: "If you have God, family and friends, you may stumble, but you will never hit the ground."