Minority Health Month in April: Advocate Bouncing Back from Open-Heart Surgery

As an African American woman who heads the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center Community Coalition for Heart Health Education (Minority Outreach Program), Wanda Moore is very aware that she is in one of the highest risk groups for dying from heart disease. She also believes that lifestyle risk factors are manageable and has become a powerful advocate to help those at risk understand how to reduce risk.
For Wanda and her committee members, knowledge is power! According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, heart disease disproportionately afflicts African American women, killing as many as 50,000 each year. The good news is women can lower their heart disease risk by as much as 82 percent by addressing risk factors:
• Smoking – about one in five African American women smokes. After one year of quitting, heart disease risk drops by more than half.
• High blood pressure (hypertension) – about 37 percent of African American women have high blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke and heart failure. Healthy eating, including low salt intake, regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and moderate alcohol consumption can help, plus taking medication if prescribed.
“Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and inactivity are risk factors that run rampant in my immediate family and my parents’ families. I have been aware of these risks for many years, but despite that did not think I would get heart disease,” said Wanda. “I made every effort to change my lifestyle to offset those risk factors. In spite of my healthy, active, watch-my-food-intake lifestyle, I too became a victim of heart disease. I have coronary artery disease (CAD) and in 2015, I had to have bypass surgery.”
Heart disease also affected two of her four siblings, including her brother, Gary Lang, who had quadruple bypass surgery and her sister, Joyce Harris, who died of heart failure in 2015. “There is nothing like the pain and helplessness of losing my sister to heart disease.”
Although she has had a very tough year between her family’s health challenges and her own, Wanda remains an active advocate for health education in the minority community. “Please be an open and honest advocate for your own health. Only you can know exactly what is going on with your health. No matter how minor it may seem," said Wanda.
Click here for more information on National Minority Health Month.
Risks and symptoms of heart failure