|| Home Page | Welcome | Contents | Staff | Support Us ||


Hypertension Epidemic
by: Aminah Roberts

High-blood pressure otherwise known as hypertension is a major health problem in the United States and especially among blacks. Not only are the risks higher, but so is the likelihood of developing it at a younger age and its severity. In order to deal with this problem, people must know the risk factors and if they do have hypertension, that they lower their blood pressure.

Any time your heart pumps it exerts a force against your vessels known as blood pressure. When your heart contracts (systolic blood pressure), your blood pressure is highest and this force lowers when your heart rests (diastolic pressure). These two types of pressure are measured side-by-side or one on top of the other with systolic coming first. The normal ratio is 120/80 and if it comes out to be 140+/90+, then you have hypertension. When your blood pressure is high, your heart must work harder to pump blood throughout the body. This over usage of the heart may cause, stroke, heart attack (death of cardiac tissue), eye and kidney problems and even death. This is why research is discovering that Africans have a high risk for heart attack and stroke.

A stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to the brain. When this happens, some of the brain tissue dies causing the person to pass out. Depending on what part of the brain is affected, an individual overcome by a stroke may become mentally impaired or die. Since strokes causes many deaths each year, it is good to know the warning signs. Things to look out for are sudden numbness in face, limb especially if in one side of the body, confusion and trouble understanding and speaking, difficulty seeing with at least one eye, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and a sudden severe headache.

A dangerous aspect of hypertension is that someone can feel healthy and still have it, and though there are rarely any symptoms, though a nurse told me that headaches are associated with this problem. So the most that you can do to find out that you have high blood pressure is through a doctor and blood pressure monitor. However, as we get older, our blood pressure slowly begins to rise. So any negative lifestyles such as overconsumption of calories and/or alcohol, diets low in potassium and high in salt, inactivity, genetics, and high normal blood pressure could speed up this process. People with hypertension can lower their blood pressure by changing the types of food that they eat, exercising and taking medication. To make sure that progress is being made, they can purchase a blood pressure monitor so that they can measure their pressure at their own homes.

Though many people in the United States suffer from high-blood pressure, there are many ways to reduce your risks. One way is to replace last fatty foods with types that are beneficial to the heart particularly those rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and protein. Some good foods to eat are fruit, vegetables, whole grains, skinless chicken, fish, and so that you have a low intake of trans and saturated fat and cholesterol. If you smoke or drink do not consume alcohol heavily and quit smoking. For those who are overweight, shedding pounds lowers the amount of work that the heart has to do, and you should exercise regularly, and learn how to manage stress. Medication that is taken are antihypertensives which lower blood pressure, diuretics that rids the body of extra fluid and sodium, and beta blockers (these reduce heart rate and its output of blood). Someone my family who has hypertension told me she takes all three medications and is told to eat lots of vegetables, avoid salt and not to drink soda. When I asked a nurse about some medicines that often used are she said, “ Some that commonly used medications are the brands Norvasc and Procardia, and also some made of a solution containing hydrochloric acid.”

In order for the number of black people with hypertension and related disorders to decrease more awareness must be brought to the community. We hear all the time that high blood pressure is bad from health officials yet many people are not taking this seriously. More African American families should help their children understand that eating unhealthy food in excessive amounts can cause serious damage to their bodies.
By doing this they will influence their children to eat more healthy. It’s okay to eat junk food but some people eat it to excess. Children could easily have a more balanced diet if given food like rice, leafed vegetables along with a food that may be high in calories. By doing this they do not have to give up the food hat they like, but instead can eat it alongside food like collard greens, cabbage, string beans, rice and salad. Parents would have to eat similarly too so that their children will adopt their habits at a young age. By doing so, less blacks will suffer from hypertension.

© Copyright 2004

|| Home Page | Welcome | Contents | Staff | Support Us ||

Back to the top