Heart disease affects African Americans at alarming rate

American Heart Association: Women affected more

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Once in every 34 seconds.

That's how often someone is diagnosed with heart disease in this country

The American Heart Association says it's affecting African American community at an alarming rate.

For Ron Walker of Jupiter, grilling, baking and broiling is part of the everyday cooking routine.

"Usually if you're in that old mindset of frying things, that's what you're going to go back to. So think about what foods you want to cook, how you want to cook it, follow through and get it done," Walker said.

He doesn't have much choice. Heart disease hit him hard. It's led to two heart transplants.

He says growing up with traditional African American cooking didn't help That usually consisted of foods high in sodium and often fried.

"That's what the African American community needs to accept and accept as a whole. That some of the food, some of the byproducts they're eating is not healthy for them," Walker said.

Doctors like Dr. Rahul Aggarwal agree: heart disease is a killer

"Heart disease has absolutely become an epidemic," said Dr. Aggarwal.

Dr. Agarwal says there is a general lack of vitamin D within the African American population.

Medical experts are still searching for the heart disease link.

"We're providing the same science, the same medication and sometimes in many cases we're not seeing the same results. So we're always asking ourselves, what gives?" said Dr. Agarwal.

Walker now cooks with salt substitutes and doesn't fry foods.

Doctors say start these practices early on in life.

"Really instilling those habits in children because it's a lot harder when you have a 55-year-old gentleman who's been living a certain way of life and then suddenly have to upend all of that," said Dr. Agarwal.
"If you treat your heart like you would treat your family members, then your heart will treat you right," said Walker.