High Blood Pressure (HBP) is when the force of the blood flows through your blood vessels and is constantly too high. The prevalence of high blood pressure in African-Americans is the highest of any ethnicity in the world. Heart disease is the number one killer for all Americans. In the United States, African-Americans tend to develop high blood pressure more often than people of any other racial background. It is important to know your numbers since HBP is considered a “Silent Killer.”

My name is Yazmin Watson and I am from Middletown, New York. I am a graduating senior at Delaware State University, expecting to graduate on May 12, 2018. My major is Public Health, which means I learn how to promote and protect the health of people. I have always been interested in the medical field because there are a broad range of job opportunities. In order to be a part of this field, it is all about teamwork.

Since I was young, I have been a part of many organizations. For example, I had the opportunity to be a Girl Scout for 13 years. I also volunteered at my local hospital, Orange Regional Medical Center, for five years and accrued over 500 hours of service. For the past three years at DSU, I have been part of Future Leaders in Progress (FLIP), LIFT, and Public Allied Health Organization (PAHO).

Once I graduate, I would like to pursue a career focused on substance abuse. This will give me the opportunity to talk to people about abusing certain drugs and how it will affect the body. My goal in five years is to be a Public Health Nurse to educate people about health issues, improve community health, safety, and increase access to care.

High blood pressure can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and a number of other health threats. In these circumstances, it is very important to be aware of all the many health and risk factors. There are non-modifiable risk factors that you cannot change, for example, family history, age, gender, and race. If high blood pressure runs in your family, there is a high probability that you too could be a carrier. As we get older, our blood vessels continuously lose some of their elastic quality which can contribute to increased blood pressure. Most people are unaware that their children can also sustain HBP. If a child has a certain disease or is prescribed a certain medication it could cause high blood pressure which is called Secondary Hypertension.  Men who are 64 or older and women who are 65 or older are more likely to get high blood pressure.

Modifiable risk factors are risk factors that you can change for example, lack of physical activity, obesity, drinking too much alcohol, diabetes, smoking and tobacco use, and stress. In African-Americans ages 20 or older there are 63% of men and 77% of women who are overweight or obese. If you consume high volumes of alcohol it could result in health problems, including heart failure, stroke, and an irregular heartbeat. Drinking can cause your blood pressure to increase dramatically and increase your risk of cancer, obesity, alcoholism, suicide, and accidents. There are African-Americans who are more likely to have diabetes than any other race. The use of tobacco can cause your blood pressure to increase and damage your arteries. Nonsmokers are also at risk due to secondhand smoke. Stress is also another contributing factor to HBP. It is important to be mindful of stressful circumstances within your daily life and finding the proper guidance to destress. Such as daily exercise, yoga, listening to music, engaging in hobbies, seeking spiritual guidance, etc.

If you are an African-American and at risk for high blood pressure, it is important to do your research. I recommend seeking proper and professional guidance if you have any questions or concerns about high blood pressure.