Did you know that 1 in 4 of adults in the greater Washington region have high blood pressure? This is a major issue. When left untreated, high blood pressure can be a contributing factor to heart attack, stroke, and other health concerns.

High blood pressure or hypertension is when the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels is consistently too high. The normal range for an adult is less than 120/80. It is known as a “silent killer” as most of the time there are no obvious symptoms.

African Americans have a higher prevalence of high blood pressure than other racial and ethnic groups. It also can be more severe, and some medications are less effective in treating high blood pressure in African Americans. Thiazide-type diuretics (water pills) and/or calcium channel blockers are more effective in lowering blood pressure when given alone or as initial medicines in a multidrug regimen to African Americans.*

Certain physical traits and lifestyle choices can put you at a greater risk for high blood pressure. How can you prevent and manage high blood pressure? Start by making healthy lifestyle choices such as:

Moving More: The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 2.5 hours of physical activity each week.
Eating Healthy: Making healthy food choices can help lower blood pressure. Eat fruits, veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy products, and low sodium food options.
Stopping Smoking: Using tobacco can cause your blood pressure to temporarily increase and can damage your arteries.
Limiting your alcohol intake: Limit your alcohol consumption to only one drink per day.
Starting to stress less: Find healthy ways like exercise or meditation to lower your stress level.
Losing weight: Maintain a normal body weight and BMI.

“It’s critical for everyone to know their blood pressure numbers. At the American Heart Association, we are working with community members and organizations to raise awareness of the dangers of high blood pressure to help the Greater Washington community live their longest, healthiest lives,” said Greater Washington Region American Heart Association’s Executive Director Soula Antoniou.

If you do have high blood pressure, work with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment options. Depending on your risk and blood pressure levels, you may be prescribed medications along with healthy lifestyle changes. With proper treatment and management, you can control your blood pressure to live a long and healthy life.
The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to check it regularly. The American Heart Association has a free online tool called the Check.Change.Control. program. This program tracks your blood pressure readings and connects you with a volunteer health mentor.

The American Heart Association is also working with healthcare partners such as Unity Health, DC Primary Care Association, and the Primary Care Coalition to help people get their blood pressure under control through education and programming including Target: BP. Target: BP supports physicians and care teams by offering access to the latest research, tools and resources to help their patients work on blood pressure. Last year, these partners reached 200,000 patients in the Greater Washington Region with Target: BP initiative.

Visit http://www.targetbp.org to learn more or www.heart.org/dc to get involved with the Greater Washington Region American Heart Association.

*Note: Specific source to the information regarding African Americans and Hypertension is from American Heart Association: https://www.heart.org/-/media/data-import/downloadables/pe-abh-what-about-african-americans-and-high-blood-pressure-ucm_300463.pdf?la=en&hash=95E93A0B6B484F665782A17CA1FFD148EDEEAFB7.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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