High Blood Pressure and African Americans

Updated:Dec 1,2016

Race and risk: get the facts and put your health first

For African-Americans, high blood pressure often develops early in life
The prevalence of high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) in African-Americans in the United States is among the highest in the world. More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic African-American men and women have high blood pressure. For African-Americans, high blood pressure also develops earlier in life and is usually more severe.

Why so many African-Americans have high blood pressure
Theories include higher rates of obesity and diabetes among African-Americans. Researchers have also found that there may be a gene that makes African-Americans much more salt sensitive. In people who have this gene, as little as one extra gram (half a teaspoon) of salt could raise blood pressure as much as 5 mm Hg.

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This content was last reviewed October 2016.