Carl Weathers, the multifaceted athlete and actor, succumbed to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) on February 1, 2024. Weathers is known for his professional football career that began in the 1970s and for his acting. The “Rocky,” film franchise would not be the same without Weather’s iconic character, Apollo Creed. Weathers knew no bounds when it came to the diversity of his roles, he exhibited range with the accumulation of 80 film and television credits, according to The New York Times.
As we mourn the loss of Carl Weathers, let us also take the time to understand ASCVD and the preventative measures that we can take.
What is ASCVD?
ASCVD is a form of cardiovascular disease (CVD), referring to health conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. According to the American Heart Association, between 2017 to 2020, approximately 58.9% of Black men had some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD), this makes our community the most prevalent regarding CVD mortality rates.
As stated by GoodRx Health, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is caused by fatty deposits, also known as plaque buildup, in the arterial walls. Some crucial factors of ASCVD include:
- ASCVD causes arteries to narrow, this restricts healthy oxygenated blood flow to organs.
- In some cases, ASCVD can block blood flow to the heart or brain which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Typically, ASCVD goes unnoticed until an artery is very narrow or blocked. Some symptoms can arise if an artery is more than 70% blocked. The Cleveland Clinic has provided an overview of common complications associated with the disease including:
- Coronary artery disease.
- Heart attack.
- Mesenteric ischemia.
- Peripheral artery disease.
- Renal artery stenosis.
- Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
- Carotid artery disease.
Unfortunately, the conditions associated with ASCVD are not mild, rather than trying to reverse this disease, it is best to identify it early on.
According to a study from the National Library of Medicine, the rate of ASCVD hospitalizations increased with the factor of comorbid hypertension. Type 2 diabetes can also increase the risk of an ASCVD diagnosis. Additionally, those who have diabetes are at a greater risk for high blood pressure. The interdependence of these conditions can impact people negatively.
Prevent an ASCVD Diagnosis
The best way to avoid an ASCVD diagnosis is to take the preventative approach, implementing healthy habits can profoundly change the direction of one’s health journey. According to the Mayo Clinic, some excellent ways to maintain good heart health and wellness include:
- A healthy diet, eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.
- Regular exercise.
- Monitoring your blood pressure.
- Stress management and practicing mindfulness to reduce the impact of chronic stress.
- Visiting your healthcare provider regularly.
If you think you may have ASCVD, note any concerns and talk with your healthcare provider. An early diagnosis can be a pivotal part of treating ASCVD and preventing it from worsening.
Carl Weathers was an artistic gift to this world, we appreciate him for his talents and for shining a light on such a massive health concern for our community.