High blood pressure in African Americans

Why does this group have more high blood pressure than others?

New research suggests that young African Americans (in their 20s, 30s and 40s) are living with or dying from conditions typical of older white Americans — like high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure is more common in non-Hispanic Black adults (54%) than in other non-Hispanic groups.

Why do so many African Americans have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a concern in itself, but African Americans are more likely to develop complications associated with high blood pressure such as stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, blindness and dementia. While researchers have not determined a solid cause for high blood pressure in African Americans, there are two triggers that may play a role:

Genetics: Some research shows that people of African descent respond differently to medication for high blood pressure than other groups. Other research also suggests that people of African descent may be more sensitive to salt, which increases the risk of developing high blood pressure.

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Health care is a right for everyone

The Institute for Health Equity, a Part of  Norton Healthcare, was established to address health and racial inequalities in our community.

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Environmental and social factors: In a CDC review of studies, a variety of possible psychosocial factors could have a significant impact on health. These factors include: access to care, racism, cultural attitudes about health care and health status and education levels.

What can you do about it?

“The easiest thing to do is know your numbers and start there. Especially if you have a family history of heart disease or high blood pressure, or if you know you are in a high-risk group,” said Crystal D. Narcisse, M.D., physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Hurstbourne.

According to Dr. Narcisse, who is one of three community medical directors at Norton Healthcare, you should continue monitoring your blood pressure either at home with a blood pressure cuff or at a clinic. You can make lifestyle changes such as:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet that is low in salt
  • Getting regular physical exercise
  • Reducing stress
  • Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight
  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing alcohol intake

Your doctor might put you on medication if your blood pressure remains high even after making some changes.

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