Empowered Voices: Black Women Unite Against Heart Disease & Share Their Inspiring Journey to Raise Awareness

Among black women, 59% of us over 20 years of age battle cardiovascular disease! Risk factors are obesity, heart disease, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity, and a family history of heart disease. 

In the latest issue of IMPACT Magazine, Tunisha Brown our Founder/Editor-In-Chief unite with 5 black women who collaborate together with the American Heart Association to raise awareness for black women about heart disease.

As we close out Women’s History Month and spring into April, we begin the journey to hear the stories of Emma E. Houston of the University of Utah, Dr. Erica Baiden a Behavioral Health doctor, Morgan Williams CEO of Blendyd Studios, Esther Jackson-Stowell Founder of Ekot Properties, and Carolyn Hayden-Garner a Tesla Executive and CEO Of Mothers Shut In. The women discussed why they joined Miss Brown on the journey to bring awareness and raise funds to help the American Heart Association.

Dr. Baiden says, “It’s important to recognize where we all are and lead with grace on this. Strive for progress not perfection. As a community, we’ve gotten away from our traditional foods, gathering together and being intentional with what we put in our bodies. This is not through our own hands…we were forced to adopt a culture outside of our own. Consider changing the narrative about food ie food is medicine. Even 20 minutes of physical activity can drastically improve your mood, mindset, and overall well-being. (And that’s good for you, your boss, your kids, and your significant other.) Exercise, by helping you sleep better and easing anxiety, can relieve the negative effects of stress on your body. Many regular exercisers also find that they can focus constructively on problems during or after a bout of exercise.

-Schedule workouts like you schedule meetings

-Keep workout clothes handy, find a friend

-Reframe workouts as enjoyable activities, walking, dancing etc.

Morgan Williams says, “I am a technology start-up Founder & CEO, a board member of several organizations, public speaker, planning my wedding, writing a book, yoga teacher, and a soon-to-be dog mom. Yes, it’s a lot. But what I’ve learned from leaders who take on more than most, is that when you take care of your greatest asset–your health and wellness–you can conquer just about anything. While each of these roles requires me to show up as my best self, I know I must show up for myself first. This campaign has inspired me to make time, space, and priority for eating well and moving my body despite feeling like time is limited. 

Over the past three years, I have personally mourned the loss of my twin brother, soon-to-be 14-year-old nephew, and soon-to-be father-in-law–each to a cardiovascular-related disease. Black women in my life are continuing to lose their sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers due to the prevalence of heart disease in the black community. This is not okay..”

Carolyn Hayden-Garner says, “When CEO and Founder Tunisha Brown asked me to join her team, I immediately said yes. As an African American woman over 20 years old, I was part of the nearly 58% of women with high blood pressure, with only 20% having their blood pressure under control. However, in September 2023, I took control of my health. Through hard work, medication, and dedication, I have dropped 63lbs and eliminated my high blood pressure medication.”

Esther Jackson-Stowell says, “I joined Tunisha Brown’s team for the American Heart Association campaign because heart disease disproportionately affects African American communities, and I want to be part of efforts to raise awareness, advocate for better healthcare access, and promote heart-healthy lifestyles among my peers and loved ones.”

Emma E. Houston says, “Having received treatments for Stage III Breast Cancer and losing my oldest daughter to Stage IV, and having a long line of breast cancer in my family history, I know the importance of staying on top of my health and taking care of my physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

The statistics are grim when they describe the risks that Black women face related to heart health.  The American Heart Association awareness campaign brings it closer to home and into our community when people who know one another share their stories and preventive information.  The awareness campaign changes the lives of women and their families. I am part of the awareness campaign because I am my sister’s keeper.

During 2023 I was diagnosed with boarder line hypertension, which are code words for “change your lifestyle if you want to see another birthday.” My doctor prescribed a twice a week physical therapy routine which lasted for eight months.  The routine made a big difference in my physical well-being and improved my stamina, lower my blood pressure and maintained my body weight. I celebrated birthday 68 in 2024 and I look forward to more to come.”

If you’d like to donate to Tunisha Brown’s Go Red Campaign with the American Heart Association, click here,

Clothing Provided By: Juah Apparel

Photography: Vidzual Media

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