Unfortunately, hypertension (high blood pressure) is a very common condition, affecting one in four Americans. African-Americans are at a higher risk, with more than 40 percent affected by high blood pressure. It is referred to as the “silent killer” because it is often asymptomatic, or without symptoms. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney and eye disease.
An individual is considered to have high blood pressure if they have readings at or above 140/90 mm Hg, and the goal is to keep your blood pressure below that. Recent blood pressure guidelines allow for slightly higher patient blood pressures in people aged 60 and older, but a new study suggests that may not be a good idea for African-Americans. To understand the effects of a higher recommendation, researchers looked at the medical records of 5,280 African-Americans in Jackson, Mississippi, who provided data through the Jackson Heart Study. Tiffany Randolph, MD, a cardiologist with Cone Health Medical Group Heart Care and lead author of the study found that even modest increases in high blood pressure were linked to a greater risk of death and heart failure among African-American adults of all ages. The study also found with every 10 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure, the risk of death increased by 12 percent. The increased risk of death was greatest among patients under age 60, who faced a 26 percent increased risk with every 10 mm Hg increase in blood pressure, compared to less than 10 percent among those over age 60.
Because high blood pressure is often asymptomatic, it is extremely important to get it checked at least once a year, and even more often if you have been diagnosed with the condition already or have pre-existing health conditions. If you receive a blood pressure reading at or above 140/90 a few times at separate readings, it is important to begin discussing lifestyle modifications and hypertension management strategies with your doctor. Fortunately, Cone Health has an exceptional network of cardiologists, primary care, family medicine and other related medical specialists and professionals dedicated to managing and treating conditions such as hypertension for individuals in our community.
Dr. Tiffany Randolph is a non-invasive cardiologist at Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare. Dr. Randolph received a Bachelor of Science in biology from Wake Forest University and she completed medical school at Harvard Medical School. She completed her residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in general cardiology at Duke University Hospital and Medical Center.