February is Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, here in the United States. The first Black History Month to be officially recognized by the U.S. government was in 1976, though Black History Month, and before that Black History Week, had been celebrated since 1926. This study and celebration of the history of the black race was created by Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. You can read more about the origins of Black History Month here.
Knowing our history is very important. It helps us to know more about and celebrate our past, as well as provides us a direction to move forward.
This is especially important when we consider our family’s health history. There are certain chronic health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) that you may be at a higher risk for just because a close relative has had them.
There are also certain chronic health conditions that you may be at a higher risk of due to other un-changeable factors, such as your race and/or ethnicity. For African Americans these high risk health conditions include:
- Heart Disease – the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans (Centers for Disease Control and prevention, CDC).
- High Blood Pressure – African Americans have a higher prevalence (commonness) than whites.
- Type 2 diabetes – African Americans are one group at particularly high risk (resources from the CDC).
- Arthritis, many African American adults have arthritis-attributable activity limitations, work limitations, and severe pain – more so than the majority of other racial groups.
CDC’s Minority Health Program has a comprehensive resource regarding health issues and health disparities for the African American or black population. To learn more, click here. Again, knowing our history is very important. After gaining knowledge, it’s important to take a step forward. For black and African American Missourians, our program encourages you to take a step toward better health now that you have more knowledge of health issues which may have an impact on your life.
For some, that first step may be to learn more about family health history. For others, the first step may be to talk with a doctor about their personal health and potential risk factors. You may already have been diagnosed with one or more chronic health conditions, and your first step may be to take a group or individual physical activity or self-management course. No matter your first step, we encourage all to continue seeking out information about and celebrating their personal and family history and to lead healthy lives! To learn more about our courses offered, or to register online, please check out our website.