There is a strong possibility that each of us knows someone with hypertension or, perhaps, you may have it yourself. Hypertension, which occurs when the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated, is also commonly known as high blood pressure. Black communities are disproportionately affected and have a higher propensity for being diagnosed with hypertension.
According to research conducted by the American Heart Association, “The prevalence of high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) in Black Americans in the United States is among the highest in the world.
About 55 percent of Black men and women have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. For Black Americans, high blood pressure also develops earlier in life and is usually more severe.”
Because blood pressure is connected to other bodily functions and the overall health of all major organs, it can be a precursor for strokes, kidney disease, and coronary disease if left undiagnosed or untreated. If you compound this with other co-morbidities, such as diabetes, then it becomes crystal clear as to why hypertension is also referred to as the silent killer.
The good news is that there are measures that we all can take, starting right now, that can help prevent, offset, or even better manage hypertension. Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ and it is highly recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning any new regimen, here are a few things that you might want to consider:
There is an old adage that “you are what you eat.” This rings especially true as it relates to hypertension. Diets that are high in salt can exasperate your blood pressure. Historically, diets in the Black community have relied upon some food staples that tend to be on the saltier side.
This, in part, may be because of the prevalence of salt in the preservation methods that were used generations ago to preserve meat, especially in rural and agrarian communities. At one point, salt was necessary for long-term storage purposes and to prevent certain meats from rotting. So, when we think of cuisines that are sometimes referred to as soul food, images of salty foods may emerge.
However, with advances in preservation methods and dietary research, we now know that adding too much salt or additional salt can be dangerous. Even though that large bag of chips may be tempting, or adding salt to your food before you taste it may be a long-held habit, give some consideration to lightly salted or unsalted snacks. And rather than assume that your meal needs a sprinkle of salt, try it first and then season it to taste.
Lastly, when preparing your food or even buying food products, read the labels. Salt, or sodium, may be