High Blood Pressure: Treat it, Prevent It

Preventing High Blood Pressure

Preventing High Blood Pressure

(BlackDoctor.org) — High blood pressure is a silent killer. It shows few to no symptoms and many people have it for years without knowing until more serious problems occur. Studies show Blacks are about 40 percent more likely than Whites to develop high blood pressure, or hypertension. If you have risk factors or a family history of high blood pressure, there are ways you can prevent the disease. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, there are ways to manage your high blood pressure to live a healthy life.

By adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, you can:

• Reduce high blood pressure
• Prevent or delay the development of HBP
• Enhance the effectiveness of blood pressure medications
• Lower your risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease

High Blood Pressure Prevention

Be Informed

More than 20 percent of people with high blood pressure are unaware of their condition. This silent disease has serious even fatal health consequences when gone untreated. If you have one of these risk factors talk to your doctor about mapping out a high blood pressure prevention plan:

• Overweight or obese
• Male over the age of 45
• Female over the age of 55
• A family history of high blood pressure
• Have prehypertension
• Suffer from certain chronic conditions including high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease and sleep apnea

Change your life and reduce your risks

If your resting blood pressure falls in the pre-hypertension range (systolic – top- number between 120 and 139 mm Hg OR diastolic – bottom – number between 80 and 89 mm Hg), your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes. Changing your lifestyle is important even if your blood pressure is normal and your focus is on prevention only.

To help prevent high blood pressure, there are changes you can make that are essential to protecting your health. These changes may reduce your blood pressure and help prevent serious problems. Lifestyle modifications include:

• Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in saturated fats, salt and sugar
• Regularly engaging in physical activity
• Maintaining a healthy weight
• Limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco

Embracing a healthy lifestyle is critical for the prevention of high blood pressure and is even more critical in managing the condition. These changes should be thought of as a medicine prescription. You must do them regularly and consistently.

Managing High Blood Pressure

Take medication if it is prescribed for you. If you are diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor will most likely prescribe medication in addition to a lifestyle modification plan. It is vital to your well-being to follow your doctor’s recommendations very carefully and take your medication as directed. There is no cure for high blood pressure. It is a lifelong disease, but you can successfully treat it and enjoy a healthy lifestyle if you follow your doctor’s requests.

Incorporate your treatment program into your daily routine. Once you have taking this step, maintaining a lower blood pressure is easier. Remember that by managing your blood pressure, you are lowering your risk of heart attack and blood vessel diseases, stroke and kidney disease. The earlier you start treatment the better.

After being diagnosed, managing blood pressure is a lifelong commitment. Listen to your doctor, stay informed about the disease, and live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

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Uncovering Mental-Health Issues Surrounding Black Women

Black Women and Mental Health Issues

Black Women and Mental Health

(BlackDoctor.org) — As black women, we often feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, so it should be no surprise that mental health conditions occur more in women than men. According to EveryDayHealth, about 29 million American women, or 20% of the female population, are treated for a diagnosable mental health-related disorder every year, and an untold number go untreated. These conditions include:

• Eating disorders. Women account for at least 85% of all anorexia and bulimia cases and 65% of binge-eating disorder cases.

• Anxiety and specific phobias. Although men and women are affected equally by such mental health conditions as obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobias, women are twice as likely as men to have panic disorder, generalized anxiety and specific phobias.

• Depression. Women are twice as likely as men (12% of women compared to 6% of men) to become depressed.

• Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD following a traumatic event.

• Suicide attempts. Men die from suicide at four times the rate that women do, but women attempt suicide two or three times more often than men.

You may be wondering what causes women to develop mental illness at a disproportionate rate. Well, studies show that the answer may lie in the following:

• Socio-cultural influences. Despite strides in gender equality, women still face challenges when it comes to socio-economic power, status, position and independence, which can contribute to depression and other disorders. Women are still the primary caregivers for children, and it is estimated that they also provide 80% of all caregiving for chronically ill elders, which adds stress to a woman’s life. Girls tend to become dissatisfied with their bodies at puberty, a reaction that is linked to depression. Girls are also sexually abused more often than boys, and one in five women will experience rape or attempted rape in her lifetime, which can lead to depression and panic disorder.

 Behavioral influences. There is some thinking that women are more apt to report mental-health disturbances than men and that doctors are more prone to diagnose a woman with depression and treat the condition with mood-altering drugs. Women are more likely to report mental-health concerns to a general practitioner, while men tend to discuss them with a mental-health specialist. Further, women are sometimes afraid to report physical violence and abuse, and will endure it for long periods of time, which can bring on severe mental duress.

• Biological influences. Female hormonal fluctuations are known to play a role in mood and depression. The hormone estrogen can have positive effects on the brain, protecting schizophrenic women from severe symptoms during certain phases of their menstrual cycles and maintaining the structure of neurons in the brain, which protects against some aspects of Alzheimer’s. On the less positive side, women tend to produce less of the mood stabilizer serotonin and synthesize it more slowly than men, which may account for their higher rates of depression. A woman’s genetic makeup is also believed to play a role in the development of such neurological disorders as Alzheimer’s.

The mental-health differences between men and women are not yet fully clear. More research needs to be done, but fortunately, government mandates have encouraged federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health to respond to the need for mental-health research specific to women. As more research comes to light and there is greater understanding of women’s mental-health issues, experts are hopeful that targeted treatments will bring better results and more positive outcomes for women with a mental-health condition.