African Americans are at high risk for stroke if they suffer from hypertension, according to the Jackson Heart Study. MPB's Kobee Vance reports on what Mississippians can do to lower their risk for heart disease.
In young black adults, more than half of all heart diseases are linked with hypertension, according to research at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Donald "Trey" Clark, author of the study, says that when the data is focused on strokes, that number goes up to sixty-nine percent. Clark explained that there are genetic and environmental factors leading to high rates in African Americans. He calls these environmental issues 'Social Determinants of Health'.
“In which there’s less access to healthy foods in some underserved areas, low levels of activity. Things like that that can contribute to the development of hypertension disproportionately in this population.”
Clark says this was one of the first studies to measure hypertension using new guidelines. He explained that a lower threshold for hypertension helped identify patients more accurately, which increased diagnosis rates. He says it's important to educate people about a heart-healthy lifestyle.
“Healthy behaviors including regular physical activity, low salt diet, reducing alcohol intake. These are all things that can be done from a non-pharmacologic way to reduce blood pressure, but then some patients do require medications as well.”
The study shows that if patients could avoid hypertension, one-third of all heart attacks and strokes would be prevented.