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High Blood pressure in Black people

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2015 | 12:00 AM

HYPERTENSION HAS been called the 'silent killer' and severely affects overall health. It is the most common cardiovascular condition in the world with a lifetime risk of almost 50 per cent in many populations. As early as the 1930s, people of African descent in the United States (US) were recognised to have a higher incidence of hypertension than did white folk although this condition was not common in their homeland Africa.

Large-scale surveys have now demonstrated a low prevalence of hypertension in rural Africa, with an increasing gradient towards the urban areas, the Caribbean, and the United States.

Here are some startling facts: Blacks develop high blood pressure earlier in life and have higher blood pressure levels than whites. More than 42 per cent of black men and women over age 20 in the US have high blood pressure. African Americans have nearly twice the stroke risk of whites and four times more middle-aged blacks than whites die from a stroke.

In the UK, men from the Caribbean have a 50 per cent higher risk of dying from blood pressure-related strokes than the general population. People of colour are at higher risk of being vitamin D deficient.


Vitamin D and high blood pressure


Medical research has shown a link between vitamin D and hypertension. People who have higher vitamin D intake tend to have lower blood pressure. Muscle cells are present in the walls of your blood vessels and a build-up of these cells can stiffen the blood vessels, making it harder for blood to flow and blood pressure to rise. Receptors for vitamin D are in these blood vessel cells. Thus, vitamin D may help to prevent excess muscle cells building up in your blood vessel walls.

Also, vitamin D helps to balance the activity of the hormonal system (the renin-angiotensin system) that controls your blood pressure. When this system is overactive, the body can retain salt and water and blood pressure can rise. According to a study in the medical journal Hypertension, taking vitamin D helps lower blood pressure in African Americans. Research participants received daily vitamin D or no vitamin D.

Participants who took no vitamin D had their blood pressure increase, while all those taking vitamin D saw a decrease in blood pressure. Positive results in lowering blood pressure was seen from 3,000 IU/day or more of vitamin D daily. Another study showed that taking 50,000 IU of vitamin D weekly helped improve high blood pressure control. Experts conclude that people with hypertension should consider using vitamin D supplements and sunbathing to help in the control of high blood pressure and maintaining better vitamin D blood levels.


Blood pressure control plan


Although mainstream medicine has tended to focus its efforts mainly on managing high blood pressure with medication, compelling evidence indicates that the condition is often treatable with relatively simple lifestyle modification.




What you eat influences your blood pressure. I recommend a reduced consumption of the simple carbohydrates, the starches and sugars. You should eat generous quantities of healthy proteins (plant protein, fish, organic poultry and eggs) combined with lots and lots of vegetables and non-sweet fruit. Be careful to avoid unhealthy animal fats and the hydrogenated vegetable oils commonly used to fry foods.


Correct obesity


To manage blood pressure, it is essential to correct obesity. The Cellular Nutrition Program is an excellent way to manage your nutrition while correcting obesity. With this approach, you simply replace two meals each day with nutritionally balanced protein shakes and follow the above guidelines for your other main meal. Frequently, you will begin to need less blood-pressure medication, so it is important to have you health-care provider monitor your progress and adjust your drug therapy.


Exercise regularly


Exercise powerfully enhances blood-pressure control. Start with 20 or 30 minutes of brisk walking five or more days per week. In addition, deliberately increase your general level of daily physical activity.


Optimise your

vitamin D level


Get your vitamin D status checked with a simple blood test. Supplement with vitamin D and have regular sun exposure to elevate the levels of vitamin D in your blood to the upper limits of normal.


Take other supplements


Specific supplements powerfully enhance blood-pressure control. Optimal levels of the mineral magnesium is critically important for stabilising blood pressure and most blood pressure sufferers are magnesium deficient. Up to 1000mg of a chelated magnesium supplement daily is ideal. Additional supplements include multivitamins, the omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins, and the anti-oxidants vitamins, especially C and E.


Manage stress


Chronic stress promotes and worsens high blood pressure because the stress hormone cortisol makes the body retain salt and water. Learn healthy stress management strategies.

Just remember, 90 per cent of the cases of high blood pressure are related to lifestyle.

- You may email Dr Vendryes at or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER106FM on Fridays at 8:15 p.m. Details of his books and articles are available on his website