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Onslow County Women and High Blood Pressure
Part 1 of a Series
In Onslow County and across the nation, more women are affected by high blood pressure and stroke than ever before, and African-American women are at greatest risk.
Did you know that the prevalence of high blood pressure (called hypertension) in African-Americans living in the United States is among the highest in the world?
According to National Institutes for Health (NIH) African-American women tend to develop high blood pressure earlier in life and have higher average blood pressures compared to white women. We know that hypertension increases the risk of stroke and congestive heart failure — and black women have high rates of both.
The good news is that there are simple ways to combat these statistics and live a healthier, longer life!
“We want the women in our community to know that knowledge is power when it comes to managing your blood pressure,” says Dr. Sequia Holland-Ellis of Jacksonville Internal Medicine & Primary Care. “There are healthy changes you can make starting today that can begin to lower your blood pressure.”
To understand blood pressure, think of it as the measure of how hard your blood has to push against the walls of your blood vessels to deliver oxygen to your body. When your heart beats, it pushes blood through a network of arteries, veins and capillaries. This pressure — blood pressure — is the result of two forces: the first force (systolic pressure) occurs as blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries. The second force (diastolic pressure) is created as the heart rests between heart beats. These two forces are each represented by numbers in a blood pressure reading.
If your blood pressure is less than 120/80, it’s considered excellent. Blood pressure consistently 140/90 or higher is called ‘hypertension stage 2’ and means you should make significant lifestyle and diet changes and may need to talk with your primary care physician about adding medication. (If blood pressure ever goes higher than 180/120 and there is chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, a change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if it comes down on its own — this is a possible medical emergency, call 911.)
“The first step is to know what your blood pressure is. If it’s high, I tell my patients to relax because now we can do something about it! High blood pressure often goes hand in hand with diabetes, and small but important changes in diet and exercise, and of course quitting smoking, can go a long way in managing both and helping you feel healthier than ever before,” Dr. Holland-Ellis explains.
In our next newsletter segment, we’ll talk more about the specific lifestyle changes you can make to manage your risk factors for high blood pressure.
Click here to make an appointment with Dr. Holland-Ellis or any of the physicians at Onslow Internal Medicine and Primary Care.