Every year, Americans suffer more than 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes. Nearly 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke.”    ~ Report from the Centres for Disease Control

Cardiologists and family medicine practitioners point to lower-income levels, dietary and other lifestyle factors in addition to our relative sensitivity to salt as reasons for black people having much higher rates of cardiovascular disease (including heart attacks and strokes), as compared to Caucasians and other races. But this isn’t satisfactory enough because patients who are well off, who do everything they know to do – eat right, exercise, sleep well, do the tests, take their meds (sometimes as many as five different anti-hypertensive medications)…and yet still have significantly high blood pressure readings.

There are indications that the answer for this disparity may be tied to our biochemistry; the way the body handles a chemical vital to cardiovascular health called nitric oxide, or NO, which, among other things, has been shown to keep the inner lining of arteries, veins, and capillaries healthy (see more here)

Sickle Cell disease is a primarily black person’s disease. Arabs, Hispanics, and other Middle Easterners have it as well, but nowhere close to how Africans, Nigerians in particular do. 80% of all sufferers are from Sub-Saharan Africa. So then, SCD patients, in addition to having this “cardiovascular disadvantage,” have their problems compounded.

In the final analysis, SCD takes a toll on the arteries and veins; the cycles of damage and repair lead to scarring (fibrosis) and blockage of blood vessels in vital organs, such as the heart, brain, and lungs (quite a few deaths in SCD are due to pulmonary fibrosis).

So what can (or should) be done?

Nourish the arteries and veins – just as there are specific nutrients that promote bone health, brain health, joint health, etc, there are certain nutrients that have been shown to improve cardiovascular health – vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, l-arginine (which the body works on to produce NO) and omega 3 fatty acids, among others.