Hypertension in African Americans

In the African American community,
there are various diseases that are more prevalent than in other
cultures. One of which is Hypertension also known as high blood
pressure. Hypertension can cause heart disease, kidney failure,
stroke, and congestive heart failure. According to the Center for
disease Control and Prevention, African Americans are more likely to
attain Hypertension than other races. There are various factors that
causes African Americans predisposed to the condition some of which
are  obesity/overweight, unhealthy eating ( high sodium intake), low
adherence to treatment, and missing appointments. (Martins, D.,
Norris, K., 2004) I do agree that these are some of the main reasons
why Hypertension is so common. When living at home with my extended
family this past year, I noticed just how much they fried food and
how little physical activities they performed. Food that would
normally be healthy are soaked in salt and cooked twice in bacon fat
left over from breakfast. I think there are some genetic factors that
cause African Americans to not absorb the medications as well but the
reason is still unknown


In the lecture material this week, we
learn there are other factors that contribute to the well being of a
person and or community. This is shown  in the Pima Indians and Type
II diabetes. Pima Indians have a genetic predisposition to store more
fat for longer periods of time to accommodate for famines. I believe
this to be a similar trait in African Americans that came about first
in Africa where those who were of larger size are seen as the
healthiest and second when slavery when they were only fed once a
day. Their bodies had to learn to adapt to the changing circumstances
of their new found lives. The high sodium diets are part of our
cultural ecology. In some African communities, boys were not yet men
until they urinate blood. While we know this to be a disease, they
call it a rite of passage. In the African American community, a girl
can not truly cook until she can make a mean fried chicken, smothered
pork chops, and candied yams. Everyone I know that is African
American has grown up knowing to have at least one fried meal a week.
It was the quickest form of cooking for large groups of people and
with every adult working from sunrise to sunset, waiting a long time
for a meal did not cut it. Food was also the center for most family
functions and is associated with some of the happier times in our
past so the tradition is passed down from one person to another. They
say that some ways to decrease hypertension is to reduce stress. Most
African Americans deal with various situations that elevate stress on
a regular basis in their work environment, financial challenges, and
inequalities. This is a display of the political ecology that affects
the health of the African American community.


While some of this information is not
proven, the effects of these issues and factors have been shown to
greatly change one’s health in regards to hypertension. If a person
can change their diet, exercise, and  reduce the stress in their
lives, their challenges with hypertension can decrease.






Martins, David, and Keith Norris. “Hypertension Treatment in African
Americans: Physiology Is Less Important than Sociology.” 
Clinic Journal of Medicine
(2004): 735-43. 


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