High Blood Pressure in African Americans

It is common for African Americans to have high blood pressure (hypertension). In fact, it is more common in this ethnic group than in whites. Statistics show that hypertension in African Americans begins at an earlier age and is usually more severe. African Americans also have a higher death rate from stroke and kidney disease as a result of hypertension.

An Overview of African Americans and High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is common in the United States. About 65 million American adults -- nearly 1 in 3 -- have this condition, also known as hypertension. High blood pressure in African Americans is more common than in whites. It also begins at an earlier age and is usually more severe.
 
Furthermore, African Americans have a higher death rate from stroke and kidney disease as a result of high blood pressure. About 37 percent of African American women have high blood pressure.
 

Treating High Blood Pressure in African Americans

Treatment can control high blood pressure -- in African Americans or any other group. It often begins with lifestyle changes. For a lot of people, this is the only treatment that is needed to lower blood pressure. These changes include:
 
  • Losing weight if overweight (losing just 10 pounds can help)
  • Increasing physical activity (walking 30 minutes per day can help)
  • Following a healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods (see DASH Diet)
  • Choosing and preparing foods with less salt and sodium
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation.
     
If lifestyle changes do not lower blood pressure to a normal level, blood pressure medication may be prescribed.
 
By treating high blood pressure, the risk for heart attacks, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease are dramatically reduced.
 
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