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African American Health

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) and African Americans

  1. What is High Blood Pressure?
  2. Statistics
  3. How Can I Control My Blood Pressure?

     

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure normally rises and falls. When the blood pressure is elevated over time, it is called high blood pressure. Any person can develop hypertension, which is the technical term for high blood pressure. Blood pressure measures the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels when the heart contracts to pump blood and when the heart rests between beats. In people with hypertension, the tension within the blood vessels is greater, which makes the heart work harder.

Hypertension has been called the "silent killer" because it can cause damage to many body organs without any symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, vision problems and even death.

Statistics

African Americans and people of African descent in the United Kingdom have among the highest rates of hypertension of any race or ethnic type in the world.1

 

How Can I Control My Blood Pressure?

 

1 CDC, National Center for Health Statistics.

2 "The Puzzle of Hypertension in African Americans," Scientific American.

Additional References

"Blood Pressure," Spacelabs Medical.

"Facts about Lowering your Blood Pressure," National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

"Fast Stats A to Z: Hypertension," National Center for Health Statistics.

"Protect your Heart! Prevent High Blood Pressure," National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

A racially diverse, volunteer panel of health and other professionals from throughout Ohio reviewed this document. Panel members offer their perspectives on NetWellness content developed for African Americans prior to posting.

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Last Reviewed: Aug 20, 2007

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati