Disclosure: This post is sponsored by American Heart Association
I completely understand that May is slowly coming to an end, but anytime is a good time to talk about High Blood Pressure, especially if you are a black woman. Did you know that 60 percent of non-Hispanic African American men and women suffer from high blood pressure? There isn’t a clear understanding of why we have it either-theories include obesity, diabetes, and genetics.
High blood pressure is known as the silent killer, and for good reason- because there are no signs or symptoms. The headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, sweating and/or facial flushing that people report? These are not common, or are because of extremely high pressure. The only way to know for sure is to know your blood pressure numbers and your risk factors. Check out www.heart.org/bplevels to access an interactive blood pressure chart to understand your risk. Here are a few examples of things that can raise your pressure:
- Family history- If mom or dad have it, you could get it too
- Age: The older you are, the more likely you are to get high blood pressure
- Gender: Until 64, men are more likely. After 65, women are more likely
- Race: African Americans develop it more frequently, and earlier in life, than any other racial background
- Kidney disease: Not only will it occur as a result of kidney disease, but it may also cause more kidney damage
- Lack of physical activity
- Diet high in sodium
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Sleep apnea
- Smoking and tobacco use
Me? I’m fat, used to smoke (I quit 2 years ago!), have sleep apnea, used to LOVE salty and sweet foods and severely lacked physical activity until this year. Am I at risk? Sure, but have I experienced high blood pressure? Absolutely. I spent every pregnancy (5) with severely high blood pressure. It was so bad, after the birth of my last son, I fainted after labor. They cut my salt intake and encourage me to be as physically active as you can ask a pregnant woman. You know how they stereotype pregnant women- round, lazy and always eating junk food. Not me. I tried to make my meals healthier with simple changes, like adding tomato to my sandwiches and cooking with olive oil.
Make changes that matter
- Change your diet. Cut the salt, keep it well balanced. I’ve heard that cutting a gram of salt per day can drop blood pressure by as much as 5 mm Hg.
- Reduce how often you drink alcohol
- Enjoy regular physical activity. Get out there and get to moving!
- Manage stress.
- Quit smoking
Learn your risks, know your numbers, treat the problem, save your life. Challenge your friends and family to know their numbers too!