The recent death of “Boyz n the Hood” director John Singleton shocked the nation. The 51-year-old died from suffering a stroke, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles. As reported, Singleton like many fellow African-Americans, suffered from high blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, African-Americans have the highest generality of high blood pressure, which is to be considered a great risk factor for stroke and heart disease.

But what is the reason, that more Blacks develop hypertension (which the medical term used for high blood pressure) diabetes, and obesity than Whites?

There are many reasons actually, but the risk factors are divided into two categories: modifiable, which can be controlled and changed, such as lifestyle habits. And non-modifiable, which can’t be controlled, such as age, gender, and race.

Low-income neighborhoods who are congested with poverty and crime, also see a decline in supermarkets that carry fresh produce. The so-called “food deserts,” push Blacks to go to the dollar store or fast food chains that attract minorities with the dollar menu or other promotions.

According to a 1992 article when fast food places expanded in poor neighborhoods, Sidney J. Feltenstein, Burger King’s former executive vice president of brand strategy, commented that ethnic groups are a better market (larger families, which mean larger checks). Quantities over-rules quality.

Whereas supermarkets didn’t want to expand in poor neighborhoods, since the high usage of EBT cards caused an uneven flow of customers. Prices for healthier items and fresh produce at supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods are higher than the median income allows, forcing Blacks to buy cheaper, unhealthier products. However, that alone is not the reason. The eating habits start at home. If healthy food choices are not being introduced at family meals, the habit continues throughout adulthood. Within the Black community, the consumption of fried food and “soul food” prepares many to become obese at an early age and suffer from diabetes before they turn 20.

The lack of nutritional education, access to fresh produce, and the promotion of alcohol and cigarettes contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle, many Blacks are accustomed to. According to the American Stroke Association, in addition to high blood pressure, other risk factors such as a poor diet, high cholesterol, and inactivity can higher the risk to suffer from a stroke. Heart disease and other conditions such as carotid, or peripheral artery disease, can also contribute to a stroke.

A stroke can happen between the ages of 20 and 80, although the percentage in the ‘20s age range is relatively low..The American Stroke Association created an acronym F.A.S.T. that everyone should know:

F: Face drooping: Ask the person to smile, and see if one side is drooping or is it numb. Is the person’s smile uneven or lopsided?

A: Arm weakness: Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm weak or numb? Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.

T: Time to call 9-1-1. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.