EVENT: Bonnie Greer with Ali Orhan
PLAYWRIGHT AND author Bonnie Greer has urged black women to focus more on keeping their hearts healthy.
At an event attended by over 120 African-Caribbean women, Greer said she believes in eating well, walking everywhere, self-empowerment and regular check-ups.
"Cardiovascular health for women has to be a key health issue in the black community," she said.
"We are in the middle of an obesity and diabetes emergency, and the health and care of the heart through eating well, regular exercise like walking, and a good night's sleep are of key importance."
The Heartfelt event was organised by the British Heart Foundation and mental health charity The Afiya Trust, and supported by National Health Service Southwark.
Held at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre in Southwark, south London, it aimed to inform and motivate black women to make healthy lifestyle choices and improve their health and wellbeing.
Women heard how everyday tasks such as housework and walking their children or grandchildren to school were all forms of physical activity that could help reduce their risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Currently, people of African-Caribbean origin are twice as likely to have a stroke as people of European origin.
Diabetes is much more common in African-Caribbean communities in the UK than the general population, and black Caribbean women have the highest rates of angina symptoms in England.
The women were also shown healthier ways of cooking with traditional African-Caribbean ingredients such as plantain and cassava that also help reduce the risk of heart problems.
Ali Orhan, project manager for the British Heart Foundation’s black and minority ethnic (BME) community activities, said: ‘People of African-Caribbean origin living in the UK are often at higher risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure than white Europeans, so it’s crucial black women think about their heart health and how simple lifestyle changes can help protect it.’
Meena Patel, The Afiya Trust’s head of policy and long-term conditions, said: ‘This event shows how crucial it is to highlight health conditions such as heart disease to black and minority ethnic communities. Far too often public campaigns do not reach BME communities and it is for that reason why The Afiya Trust sees this as a prime opportunity to help create these events, to reach out to those hard to reach groups.’
For more information visit bhf.org.uk/africancaribbean