Hypertension, also known as High Blood Pressure is the leading cause of heart disease in America. It’s known as the silent killer and it affects African Americans at a much higher rate than the rest of the population. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, African Americans are 8 times more likely to develop kidney failure that other ethnic groups and they directly attribute it to hypertension.
Researchers are still trying to sort through the possible reasons for the disparity in numbers. There are many theories, but until we know for sure, the facts are these:
- – High blood pressure tends to be more common and more severe in the black community.
– It is the single largest contributing factor to shorten life spans for African Americans.
– It is the number one cause for type-2 diabetes deaths for African Americans.
(Source: Dept. of Health & Human Services)
How can high blood pressure be prevented or managed?
- Maintain the proper weight for height/age. Losing just 10% of body weight can often cause a dramatic increase in overall health.
- Eat heart smart! Increase the proportion of fruit, vegetables, and low fat dairy in diet. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat or cholesterol.
- Pass on the salt! A high sodium diet is a huge contributor to high blood pressure. Limit intake to only 2400 mg per day.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Limit alcohol intake to 2 drinks per day for men and only 1 for women.
- Get moving! 30 minutes per day of moderate level activity like biking or walking is a good goal.
- Quit smoking!
- Consult a doctor. Starting an exercise routine or new diet should begin with a conversation with a physician.
Because the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease is increased, high blood pressure is a condition that must be taken seriously. Although medication might be advised by a physician it’s good to know that simple changes to diet and the addition of regular exercise can make significant improvements.