BP Basics

High Blood Pressure in the Afro-American Population  

The blood in our body exerts a certain force or pressure on the arteries when it is pumped by the heart. This pressure is known as blood pressure. The heart that pumps blood does so in to stages: the systolic pressure (when the heart beats) and the diastolic pressure (when the heart is at rest).

A person who has blood pressure in the range 140/90 mmHg or above is said to have high blood pressure. Studies have revealed that African Americans, elderly, people who abuse alcoholic and obese persons are more prone to the dangers of high blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage the heart and cardiovascular system. Untreated blood pressure can result in problems such as heart attack, stroke, renal failure or problems relating to the eyes.

African Americans are liable to develop high blood pressure in early stages of life and the condition may affect young Afro-Americans. One thing that studies have revealed is that depression can be one of the causes of high blood pressure in this group. Another controversial debate is on whether the genetic make up of African Americans that leads to hypertension or the environment in which they live.

It is a matter of concern that needs to be properly studied. If we assume that high blood pressure in African Americans is due to their genetic make up, then it is difficult to explain why people of African descent, who live in countries other than America, do not exhibit a tendency to suffer from hypertension.

The effect of environment can explain why Afro-Americans are predisposed to suffer from hypertension. Afro-Americans may be victims of social or cultural discrimination. This may partly explain the high incidence of hypertension amongst them.

Psychosocial factors are important in the development of hypertension, for when people move from a conventional ethnic society to a metropolitan, westernized life, their blood pressures rise.

Stress and unbalanced diet, which are a part of urban lifestyle, too contribute to high blood pressure in African Americans. Other factors accounted for hypertension are obesity and salt intake.

Education in the Afro-American population has a distinct bearing on the incidence of high blood pressure in the group.