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African American Men Have High Risks . . .

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. . . for High Blood Pressure

Let the stats speak for themselves – men, you’re at risk for high blood pressure and with the risks, come the often catastrophic consequences.

 

  • African American adults are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure.
  • Among non-Hispanic Black men age 20 and older, 42.6% have high blood pressure.
  • Among non-Hispanic Black men age 20 and older, 6.8% have coronary heart disease.
  • Among non-Hispanic Black men age 20 and older, 3.9% of men have had a heart attack.
  • Among non-Hispanic Blacks age 20 and older, 44.4% of men have cardiovascular disease.
  • African American adults are 60% more likely to have a stroke than their White adult counterparts.

Sources include American Heart Association and Office of Minority Health/US Department of Health and Human Services

“Left undetected and untreated, hypertension can lead to heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and other serious conditions that can affect the legs, eyes, and brain,” said Thomas Mahn, MD, FACC, cardiologist with Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group Heart and Vascular Physicians at the St. Joseph Professional Office Building.

The only way to tell if you have hypertension is to check your blood pressure regularly as recommended by your doctor.

“If you don’t have a doctor, it’s important to get a primary care physician,” added Dr. Mahn. “The only way you know you have high blood pressure is to get it checked. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will create a treatment plan for you.”

Who is most at risk?

Your blood pressure is impacted by certain factors — some you can control; others you can’t.

Race and ethnicity

“Although anyone can get high blood pressure, we’re seeing an increase in younger African American men with heart failure related to undiagnosed hypertension,” said Dr. Mahn. “We’re seeing it in men in their 30s.”

Undiagnosed high blood pressure is also contributing to more individuals coming into the emergency room with chest pain and shortness of breath,” he added.

High blood pressure is more common in African American adults than in Hispanic and Caucasian adults. African Americans also tend to get hypertension earlier in life and have more severe high blood pressure.

Age

Blood pressure increases as we age.

Gender

More men tend to have high blood pressure when compared with women.

Modifiable risks

To reduce your risk for high blood pressure, or control your condition:

  • Reduce salt in your diet. Your doctor or a nutritionist can share grocery shopping and cooking strategies. The internet also has many heart health sites with no or low salt recipes.
  • Lose excess weight. “With the rise in obesity, we’re seeing more hypertension in those patients,” said Dr. Mahn. Losing weight — even just 5-10 percent or more — can make a difference.
  • Get regular exercise. You don’t have to go to a gym to add movement to your life. Add 10-minute segments of walking to your day.
  • Practice stress management. Your doctor can share ways for you to manage your response to challenging situations.

Take prescribed medicine. Changing your lifestyle may not be enough, and you may need medicine to control your blood pressure.

Your blood pressure isn’t the only condition that may be avoided or controlled by taking these wellness steps. Heart and vein health, cholesterol, blood sugar, and sleep issues may also improve.

Know your numbers

For blood pressure checks, you can go to:

  • Your doctor’s office. Blood pressure will be checked when you’re there for a physical exam, illness or injury.
  • Community health fairs. Nurses, physician assistants, and other trained clinical personnel often offer free screenings or checks at these events.
  • Retail stores. Blood pressure machines are often found in pharmacies, drug stores, and shopping malls. “You can trust using these cuffs if they are regularly calibrated,” said Dr. Mahn.
  • Home blood pressure cuffs. Bring them to your doctor’s office to check accuracy.

For more information about high blood pressure or to find a doctor, visit www.mywheaton.org.

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