High blood pressure is common. About 65 million American adults - nearly 1 in 3 - have high blood pressure. It is very common in African Americans, who may get it earlier in life and more often than whites. Many Americans tend to develop high blood pressure as they get older, but this is not a part of healthy aging. Middle-aged Americans face a 90% chance of developing high blood pressure during their lives. Others at risk for developing high blood pressure are the overweight, those with a family history of high blood pressure, and those with prehypertension (120-139/80-89 mmHg).
High blood pressure occurs more often among African Americans than whites. It begins at an earlier age and is usually more severe. Further, African Americans have a higher death rate from stroke and kidney disease than whites. The good news is, treatment can control high blood pressure. In addition, lifestyle changes can prevent and control high blood pressure. These include losing weight if overweight (losing 10 lbs can help), increasing physical activity (walking 30 minutes per day can help), following a healthy eating plan, that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and lowfat dairy foods, choosing and preparing foods with less salt and sodium, and if you drink alcoholic beverages, drinking in moderation. If lifestyle changes alone are not effective in keeping your blood pressure controlled, there are many blood pressure medications to help you.
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD