High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is known as a “silent killer” because often there are no symptoms. Black Americans develop high blood pressure at a higher rate than any other racial group in the United States. Moreover, high blood pressure tends to occur at younger ages and is more severe in Black Americans. If not properly cared for high blood pressure’s progressive effects can strain the heart, damage blood vessels, and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and even kidney disease.
According to the new 2017 guidelines published by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) for detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure, high blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130/80 mm Hg and higher.
Knowing Your Risk Is Key to Prevention
Anyone can develop high blood pressure; however, age, race or ethnicity, being overweight, gender, lifestyle habits, and a family history of high blood pressure can increase your risk. You can’t control who you are—your age, gender, race, or family history. But, you can control your lifestyle habits through physical activity, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol consumption.
Not getting enough physical activity increases your risk of getting high blood pressure. On the other hand, regular physical activity helps to strengthen your heart, lower blood pressure, control weight and reduce stress.
You should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking or bicycling 5 – 9 mph. That’s just 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. If you can’t carve out 30 minutes daily for your physical activities, you can break it up into three 10-minute segments, or two 15-minute segments.
Making healthy food choices can help lower blood pressure. You should aim for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and oils like olive or canola.
A diet that is high in salt, calories, saturated fat, trans fat, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
Being overweight or obese puts an extra strain on your heart and increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. It also increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Losing as little as between 10 and 15 pounds is enough to help manage or prevent high blood pressure.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause your blood pressure to increase dramatically and can also increase your