News & Events

Added to My Toolbox
Removed from My Toolbox
Added to My Toolbox
Removed from My Toolbox
Aug 09, 2018

African-Americans are More Likely to Develop High Blood Pressure by Middle Age

Study highlights the need for early treatment and prevention.

Black adults are up to two times more likely to develop high blood pressure by age 55 compared to whites, with many of these racial differences developing before age 30, concludes a study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Known as the CARDIA Study (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults), this study tracked the blood pressure of U.S. adults from young adulthood through middle age. It included 3,890 adults between the ages of 18 and 30, all of who were free of high blood pressure at baseline and followed for up to 30 years.

Participants were from four U.S. cities including Birmingham, Chicago, Minneapolis and Oakland and enrolled in the study during the mid-1980s.

The goal of the recent analysis was to see how many blacks developed high blood pressure and at what age compared to whites. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Blacks face significantly higher rates of hypertension compared to whites.

By the end of the CARDIA study, 75% of blacks had developed high blood pressure, compared to just 55% of white men and 40% of white women. Depending on participant’s initial blood pressure, this difference translated to 1.5–2 times greater risk for hypertension among black adults than whites.

Researchers note that many of these differences developed by age 30, highlighting the need for early intervention.

They also found that regardless of race, a number of factors were associated with increased risk for hypertension, such as being overweight or obese and having a family history of high blood pressure. These risk factors are well-established and known to increase risk for both hypertension and heart disease.

Experts also found that adherence to the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which limits salt intake and promotes a heart-healthy diet, was associated with lower risk for hypertension.

The take-home message, according to authors, is the importance of high blood pressure prevention in blacks beginning at a young age. There are many simple ways to reduce risk for high blood pressure, such as staying active, eating healthy, and maintaining a healthy weight. Over time, these steps can help significantly reduce risk for high blood pressure, especially when adopted earlier in life.

Questions for You to Consider

  • Who is at risk for high blood pressure?
  • Risk for hypertension increases with age, and most adults will eventually be affected by this condition at some time in their lives. However, diabetes, obesity, stress, high sodium intake, tobacco use and excessive alcohol use can greatly increase risk for high blood pressure.
  • What is a healthy blood pressure?

  • For adults, a healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. Blood pressure is considered elevated between 120–139 mmHg systolic (top number) or between 80–89 mmHg diastolic. Chronic high blood pressure, known as hypertension, occurs when systolic blood pressure is more than 140 mmHg or the diastolic systolic blood pressure is more than 90 mmHg.

Infographic: High Blood Pressure


Who Should Get Statins for Primary Prevention?

What every patient should know about cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Self-Affirmation and Medication Adherence in Hypertensive African Americans

Positive thinking may help with medication adherence more than you might think.

Protein Intake and Blood Pressure Reduction

Eating more protein may help lower systolic blood pressure.

Sleep Time Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction

Blood pressure levels during sleep are useful indicator of cardiovascular health.

Improved Home Blood Pressure Management

Phone-based interventions improve blood pressure control in patients.