African-Americans with healthier lifestyles had lower risk of high blood pressure

June 26, 2017, American Heart Association

Among African Americans, small health improvements were associated with lower risk of developing high blood pressure, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension. African Americans who had at least two modifiable healthy behaviors at the beginning of the study, compared to those with one or none, researchers found the risk of high blood pressure at follow-up was reduced by 20 percent.

Researchers also found that there was a 90 percent lower risk for high among African Americans who had at least six of seven modifiable healthy behaviors that are defined as part of the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 compared with participants who followed none or one.2

The Life's Simple 7 was developed by the American Heart Association to monitor cardiovascular health in US adults and to help demonstrate that small changes can lead to a big impact in improving health. The Life's Simple 7 includes: not smoking; maintaining a healthy weight; eating healthy; being physically active; maintaining healthy blood sugar levels; controlling cholesterol levels and managing blood pressure to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Compared with whites, African Americans have a greater risk for developing high blood pressure.4 According to the American Heart Association, currently one out of three adults in America has high blood pressure. Among non-Hispanic blacks, 45 percent of men and nearly half (46.3 percent) of women have high blood pressure.

"The Life's Simple 7, an approach used by the American Heart Association to monitor cardiovascular health, can also be used to monitor high blood pressure risk in African Americans, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease," said John N. Booth, III, MS, lead study author and PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "We found that even small improvements in can reduce risk for developing high blood pressure."

These latest findings are based on the Jackson Heart Study, a community-based study designed to assess cardiovascular risk among African Americans. Blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol were measured in more than 5,000 study participants (5,306 total). They were also asked about their exercise, eating and smoking habits at the beginning of the study and followed up about 8 years later.

Among the study group researchers found:

  • More than half (50.3 percent) developed high blood pressure.
  • Eight out of 10 (81.3 percent) who followed only one or none of the healthy behaviors developed high blood pressure compared with only 1 in 10 (11.1 percent) of participants who followed six of the behaviors. None of the participants followed all seven healthy behaviors at the beginning of the study.9

Overall, participants who followed more ideal health behaviors were younger and more likely to be women and to have at least a high school education and a household income of at least $25,000 a year.

Booth said that more research is needed to better understand why African Americans remain a population particularly vulnerable to , but that the Life's Simple 7 program offers an opportunity to intervene and reduce their risk for additional heart complications.

Explore further: Take a free test that could possibly save your life

More information: Hypertension (2017). DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.117.09278

Related Stories

Take a free test that could possibly save your life

April 14, 2017
As part of #CheckIt, the American Heart Association (AHA) ) – the world's leading voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease – wants people to check their own blood pressure by May 17, World ...

Regular exercise may reduce high blood pressure risk in African-Americans

January 30, 2017
Regular swimming, biking or even brisk walks can help African Americans lower their chance of developing high blood pressure, according to new research published in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension.

Too many Americans have high blood pressure, doctors warn

February 7, 2017
(HealthDay)—A group of family physicians warns that too many Americans struggle with high blood pressure.

Can a 70-year-old have the arteries of a 20-year-old?

May 30, 2017
(HealthDay)—Imagine having the clear, supple, healthy blood vessels of a 20-year-old in your 70s. It's possible, but "challenging," a new study suggests.

Modest increases in high blood pressure linked to death, heart failure

December 7, 2016
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, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the ...

Golden years are longer and healthier for those with good heart health in middle age

May 1, 2017
People with no major heart disease risk factors in middle age live longer and stay healthy far longer than others, according to a 40-year study reported in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

Recommended for you

Resolvin D-1 limits kidney damage after heart attacks

February 20, 2018
A heart attack triggers an acute inflammatory response at the damaged portion of the heart's left ventricle. If this acute inflammation lingers, it can lead to stretching of the ventricle and heart failure. The inflammation ...

Stroke drug demonstrates safety in clinical trial

February 20, 2018
A preliminary Phase 2 clinical trial has demonstrated that patients with acute ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, can safely tolerate high doses of 3K3A-APC, a promising anti-stroke drug invented at The Scripps ...

Women once considered low risk for heart disease show evidence of previous heart attack scars

February 20, 2018
Women who complain about chest pain often are reassured by their doctors that there is no reason to worry because their angiograms show that the women don't have blockages in the major heart arteries, a primary cause of heart ...

Can your cardiac device be hacked?

February 20, 2018
Medical devices, including cardiovascular implantable electronic devices could be at risk for hacking. In a paper publishing online today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Cardiology's ...

A drug long used to treat gout may help adult heart failure patients

February 20, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine have shown that probenecid, a drug long used to treat gout, may be able to improve heart function in adult patients who experience heart failure.

Number of obese years not—just obesity—a distinct risk factor for heart damage

February 20, 2018
In an analysis of clinical data collected on more than 9,000 people, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that the number of years spent overweight or obese appear to "add up" to a distinct risk factor that makes those with ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.