If we want to be here for a long time and enjoy every moment, then tending to our health is a critical habit we must form. More specifically, we must be thinking about our heart health. It’s no secret that Black women suffer from some of the highest cases of cardiovascular disease – nearly half of us, 20 years old and older. It’s also no secret that for many years, Black women were left out of the heart health conversation because it focused almost solely on men.

That’s a problem with many layers.

Dr. Patrice A. Harris, Immediate Past President of the American Medical Association, has been doing the acclaimed work of addressing each layer to lessen the number of Black women dying of cardiovascular diseases and increase the number of Black women who are well-versed in their own heart health. How? Well, sharing her own story has been a key first step.

“As a physician, I was having chest pain one day but because I just didn’t associate heart attack with a woman I didn’t even think that I could be having a heart attack,” Dr. Harris shares on a recent episode of the Yes, Girl! podcast.

Dr. Patrice Harris

Dr. Harris’s experience helped her to realize that sometimes women experience heart health issues differently from men.

“We have to be educated about the symptoms. Women often experience different symptoms. We have nausea, we have vomiting, we have pain radiating down our arm. Over 50,000 of us die every year from cardiovascular disease. But in surveys African-American women don’t always put their heart health as a part of their overall health,” says Dr. Harris.

In partnership, ESSENCE and our Health Squad – American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association Foundation, the Association of Black Cardiologists, the Minority Health Institute and the National Medical Association – have crafted a nuanced health campaign, “Release The Pressure” that specifically engages Black women with informational, educational, and encouraging content.

“Everyone knows where our heart is but I think we should talk about the fact that the heart is connected to all the blood vessels in our body. And that system makes sure that our body gets the oxygen and the other nutrients we need to be healthy and to be well.”

Listen to Dr. Patrice Harris’s Yes, Girl! segment right after Patti LaBelle on AppleSpotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

To learn more about the Release The Pressure campaign and to take the pledge for your heart health visit: www.essence.com/releasethepressure.com

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