High Blood Pressure: “The Silent Killer”

High Blood Pressure: “The Silent Killer”

The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans is among the highest in the world. High blood pressure affects more than 40 percent of African Americans. It also develops earlier in life in blacks than in whites and is usually more severe. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms. That’s why it’s called the “silent killer.” The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to have your doctor check it regularly.

silent-killerWhat’s blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure results from two forces. One is created by the heart as it pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system. The other is the force of the arteries as they rest between heart beats.

What causes high blood pressure? 

No one knows for sure. In fact, most high blood pressure cases have no known cause. Factors that may lead to high blood pressure in 5 to 10 percent of cases include kidney disease, tumors of the adrenal glands near the kidneys and narrowing of certain arteries.

How often should I have my blood pressure checked?

Your doctor may take several readings over time before making a judgment about your blood pressure. Checking your blood pressure is quick and painless. You can have it done in a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, nurse’s office, pharmacy, company clinic or health fair.

How does high blood pressure affect me? 

It can damage blood vessels in various parts of your body. And the longer it’s left untreated, the more likely organs such as your heart, brain, kidneys or eyes will be damaged. This can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, erectile dysfunction, and loss of vision

What can I do to lower or control my blood pressure? 

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight.
  • Eat healthy foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and salt.
  • Eat a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
  • Increase your daily physical activity.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than one drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you’re a man.
  • If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Take medicine the way your doctor tells you.

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