Charles R. Drew University offers tips on hypertension
May is National Blood Pressure Education and Stroke Awareness Month
LOS ANGELES, Calif — Otherwise known as high blood pressure, hypertension has been labeled the silent killer because people with hypertension do not show any specific signs and symptoms until it is advanced and complicated.
Over 67 million American have hypertension—that’s one in three adults. If left un-checked, it can lead to heart disease and stroke—the nation’s leading causes of death.
While people of all ages and backgrounds have high blood pressure, minorities have much higher rates and much more complicated cases of hypertension. African Americans, specifically, tend to become hypertensive more often and much earlier in their lifetimes that their white or Hispanic counterparts. According to the CDC, African American women are the largest group of people with high blood pressure in the country.
Blood pressure is written as two numbers. First is the systolic that represents the pressure in blood vessels when the heart is beating. The diastolic or second number represents the pressure in blood vessels when the heart rests between beats. Generally speaking, blood pressure is considered optimum when the systolic blood pressure is less than 120mmHg and the diastolic blood pressure is less than 80mmHg. People with systolic blood pressure reading between 120mmHg and 139mmHg are called pre-hypertensive because they are at an increased risk of becoming hypertensive. The clinical diagnosis of hypertension is made when the blood pressure reading in the clinic is 140/90mmHg and higher on at least three different occasions under complete physical and mental relaxation.
Fortunately, in most cases, hypertension can be prevented and controlled with simple dietary changes and increased physical activity. Dr. David Martins, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor of Medicine at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science recommends the following lifestyle changes to enhance normal blood pressure readings:
· Eat a healthy diet comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, eat foods that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol.
· Avoid salt
· Maintain a healthy weight
· Be physically active
· Don’t smoke
· Limit alcohol use
The need to make these changes and monitor blood pressure regularly cannot be overemphasized because of the exploding prevalence of obesity and hypertension among young Americans. Says Martins, “Even though more adults are overweight and obese, we are seeing the prevalence of hypertension exploding among children—these are rather surprising results. Overweight and obesity predispose to high blood pressure and diabetes and increase the risk of cardiovascular death. Overweight and obese children and youth are at a greater risk of cardiovascular death. At CDU, we have been researching and exploring exercise gaming as a way to increase physical activity and perhaps decrease obesity and lower cardiovascular disease risk especially among youth. The idea is to provide parents and children acceptable alternatives to increase physical activity. The program is combined with recommendations for dietary changes because increase physical activity without calorie reduction will not lead to weight loss. Increased physical activity and reduced calorie intake are equally important for weight management and blood pressure control. The CDU Clinical and Translational Research Center and its affiliated investigators remain committed to the relentless search for effective and innovative ways to enhance the ability of the people to make these healthy lifestyle changes. After all, health is a gift and life is a choice.”
About Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
CDU is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian, medical and health sciences institution. Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated more than 550 medical doctors, 2,500 post-graduate physicians, more than 2,000 physician assistants and hundreds of other health professionals. The only dually-designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School in the U.S., CDU’s mission is to conduct education, research and clinical services in the context of community engagement to train health professionals who promote wellness, provide care with excellence and compassion, and transform the health of underserved communities. For more information, visit http://www.cdrewu.edu/.