Organization seeks to create awareness and improve treatment
According to the Maryland Heart Center, one African American dies as a result of high blood pressure every hour in this country, which is nearly twice as often as their white counterparts. Blacks also suffer from heart and kidney disease at alarmingly high rates, both of which are adversely affected by high blood pressure. As a result, African Americans currently make up about 30 percent of those on dialysis due to kidney failure.
Blacks also develop high blood pressure at younger ages than Whites and suffer more damage to their organs as a result of the disease. Therefore, the Cream City Medical Society is strongly recommending adherence to current guidelines as to how the disease is treated and how it should be managed.
“Back in 1997, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute drafted guidelines for treating hypertension that listed 140/90 mm Hg as the goal for lowering blood pressure in most patients. The Cream City Medical Society is recommending all patients with hypertension who have also been diagnosed with other health issues such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, aim to lower their pressure to 130/80 mm Hg.” says, Dr. Alicia Walker, pharmacist, president, the Cream City Medical Society..
Based on the latest studies, the Cream City Medical Society also urges doctors to start treating African American patients with at least two medications instead of just one when deemed appropriate. One of these medications often includes a diuretic, due to the high prevalence of salt sensitivity in African Americans, likely due to social and environmental factors.
Another recommendation to drug therapy in patients with diabetes and kidney disease is to include an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin II receptor blockers. These medications have been shown to slow the progression of kidney disease which is a major complication of chronic high blood pressure.
“Every patient, Black or White, should be encouraged to make changes in their lifestyles. This is especially true among African American patients because of the especially prevalent and devastating complications from high blood pressure in the black community which is why we have emphasized the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH diet as well as the inclusion of exercise into a weekly routine,” said Walker.
“Studies have shown that blacks who follow the DASH diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber, and exercise regularly, have been able to successfully lose weight and contribute to the control of their blood pressure. Bringing down blood pressures and making the necessary lifestyle changes translates into less morbidity and mortality from other diseases,” continued Walker.
One of the most dangerous factors about Hypertension is that there are no symptoms. This is why it is so important for patients to get their blood pressure checked regularly. Even though patients rarely experience any symptoms with hypertension, they do report feeling a lot better, in general, once they get their blood pressure under control.
Finally, a person can take less medication once they have their pressure under control. It is NOT recommended a patient stop taking medication once diagnosed with hypertension unless approved by their doctor.