Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries. If that force measures 140/90 mm Hg or higher, it is considered to be high. With hypertension, or high blood pressure, blood is unable to flow smoothly through blood vessels putting pressure on and damaging the vessels.
If left untreated for an extended period of time, high blood pressure can cause a heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and a number of other health issues.
Some factors that could increase your risk of developing high blood pressure include health conditions, lifestyle, and family history. For the most part, there are no warning signs or symptoms, so having your doctor routinely measure your blood pressure is critical. Research from the American Heart Association (AHA) shows that high blood pressure affects more than 40% of African Americans and develops earlier in life than with Caucasians.
In addition, the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that African American women develop high blood pressure earlier on than women of other ethnicities. It is unclear exactly what causes high blood pressure, but according to the AHA, higher instances of obesity and diabetes could put African Americans at higher risk.
While there is no cure for high blood pressure, it can be managed. This includes medication, a change in your diet, and getting more physical activity.