The Truth About Blacks and High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has been referred to as “the silent killer,” as, often, it presents no obvious symptoms. One of the most dangerous things about this condition is that it can lead to stroke, as it damages and weakens the brain’s blood vessels, resulting in them narrowing, rupturing and leaking. It can also cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to the brain, which in turn blocks blood flow and potentially causes a stroke.
Studies have shown that when blood pressure in African Americans increases as little as 10 mm Hg, the risk of dying from hypertension-related complications increases by 12 percent. The risk increases by a further 26 percent for blacks under the age of 60. These findings have led cardiologists to believe that there is a need to approach treatment for high blood pressure differently among African Americans, as opposed to how treatment is approached among whites.
The blood pressure goal set by the U.S. National Institutes of Health Eighth Joint National Committee currently stands at a target of less than 50/90 mm Hg; a goal based on clinical trials that often exclude blacks. The National Heart Association reportedly believes that this goal is too high.
Higher High Blood Pressure Death Risk Among African Americans
A nine-year study of 5,200 African Americans (the Jackson Heart Study which was conducted between 2000 and 2011 in Jackson, Mississippi) revealed that every “10 mm Hg increase in blood pressure caused a 12 percent increase in the risk of death, and a 7 percent increase in the risk of being hospitalized for heart failure,” according to lead researcher Dr. Tiffany Randolph. The recommended blood pressure was set lower for this group.
The study played an integral role in proving that not only is there is a dire need to make healthy lifestyle choices among African Americans, but that there is an urgent need to adjust blood pressure levels for different groups of people.
By: Danielle Dixon
Follow her on Twitter: @tooprettydani