high blood pressure by the age of 55.
That’s a far higher rate than seen among either white men (55 percent) or white women (40 percent).
So, why does this hit so close to home for black Americans?
“We started to see differences between blacks and whites by age 30,” said lead researcher S. Justin Thomas. “We need to start focusing on preventing hypertension [high blood pressure], particularly in blacks, at an early age,” he added.
Thomas is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s department of psychiatry.
It isn’t known why black Americans are more prone to high blood pressure at an earlier age than white Americans, Thomas said.
But he speculated that a combination of lifestyle and genetics may explain why.
Thomas said preventing high blood pressure needs to start by getting kids to develop healthy habits.
“I don’t think you can start too early,” he said. “It should start at elementary school. If kids are told frequently that this is important, they will adopt it.”
High blood pressure can lead to serious health problems over time, the researchers noted.
Dr. Gregg Fonarow explained that high blood pressure “is a leading risk factor for heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease and premature cardiovascular death.”
He is a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and was not involved with the new study.
Black men and women in the study had twice the risk of high blood pressure than