If left untreated, hypertension often leads to serious health conditions
It’s called the Silent Killer!
No, this is not the title of a horror movie, but high blood pressure, also known as hypertension,can have dire consequences if left untreated. And this is especially true for the black community, where hypertension is prevalent and should not be ignored.
High blood pressure can be defined as a systolic number greater than 130 or 140 and a diastolic number greater than 80 or 90 depending on your age and other health conditions, according to Dr. Sharon K. Oconquo-Holmes, MD. family medicine with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. Sheresearch includes studying how certain medical conditions – such as hypertension – affect the African-American community.
“When our blood pressure is high, we can sometimes feel a headache or notice swelling in our legs and shortness of breath, but often there are no signs or symptoms, which makes it dangerous,” said Dr. Oconquo-Holmes. “Early diagnosis and treatment can save your life. When your blood pressure is controlled, it reduces the risk of stroke, heart attack and living with chronic kidney disease, which can lead to dialysis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more men in America have high blood pressure than women. Hypertension is also more common in black adults thanУhit, asian and hispanic adults.
Dr. Oconquo-Holmes noted that there are many reasons for this phenomenon, including diet.
“WLooking at the history of enslaved Africans, we find that in Africa they relied mainly on a local plant diet of sorghum, pearl millet, African rice, quarrel (black-eyed peas), African yam, okra and watermelon, “she said. Africans to continue this plant-based diet was limited to slavery.
For the vast majority of Africans, every day brings a meal similar to the day before and centuries before,Said Dr. Oconquo-Holmes.Today, however, shenotesthis is not the case for black Americans living in a society that relies more on processed and packaged goods.
“People who were once addicted to food grown from the land now have access to a wealth of foreign fats and cholesterol-filled treats that have been shown to be bad for your overall health,” she explained.
“In the poorer areas of our communities, where many black Americans live, there has been a significant increase in the proliferation of fast food chains offering a wide variety of cheap, unhealthy foods. In contrast, wealthier communities enjoy the benefits of health food stores. Thus, it is no coincidence that many African Americans are less exposed to healthy foods and suffer more from the effects of poor nutrition than other Americans. This is a major contributor to health problems, including hypertension. “
Another important factor is the wear and tear of the body, which accumulates when the individual is exposed to repetitive or chronic stress.
“Research has shown that living in a black body in America is a predisposition to chronic stress,” said Dr. Oconquo-Holmes. “The common or actual experience of racism, trauma, social injustice and systemic racism increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
What can I do?
Dr. Oconquo-Holmes encouraged black Americans to eat healthily, exercise, and maintain good mental health to keep their blood pressure as close to 120/80 as possible, because that means your heart will lift less. weight and will face less pressure. A healthy lean heart prevents chronic kidney disease (and dialysis), heart attacks, strokes and other serious health consequences, she said.
To prevent hypertension or lower your blood pressure, Dr. Okonkwo-Holmes recommends eating healthier foods, such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) diet. The DASH diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Includes skimmed or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans and nuts. It restricts foods high in salt, saturated fats, such as fatty meats and whole milk products.
She also stressed the importance of each formonan exercise you find challenging and enjoyable,like brisk walking for about 30 minutes five days a week. However, please consult your healthcare provider before taking an exercise regimen.
Finally, prioritizing pleasure is the key to maintaining normal blood pressure. With all the stressors of life, celebrating black joy, laughter, comedy, church attendance, prayer / meditation, time with family and friends, and talking to a therapist, pastor, barber, or beautician are among the very important mechanisms for dealing with adults. . “People living in America can work to keep their bodies healthy,” Dr. Oconquo-Holmes said.
When should I seek medical help?
If your high blood pressure persists despite lifestyle changes, Dr. Oconquo-Holmes noted that the drug is a viable option. She advised African-Americans to check their blood pressure regularly at home and have an annual check-up with their healthcare provider, where a discussion should be held about medications, side effects or any other issues.
“Complications of hypertension have taken many influential lives in the black community,” said Dr. Oconquo-Holmes. “It simply came to our notice then.But it’s up to us to be aware of our blood pressure values, monitor it closely and, if necessary, take action to reduce it. ”
Kaiser Permanente offersvaluable informationrelated to how to maintain good blood pressure.
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