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High blood pressure before 35 can triple stroke risk in Black women

High blood pressure can triple stroke risk in Black women

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Black women under 35 with high blood pressure are at three times the risk of having a stroke compared to their white counterparts.

The risk is double for black women who are diagnosed with high blood pressure from ages 35-45.

This comes from new research the American Heart Association shared.

Experts said these findings need to change public health interventions around high blood pressure screenings and treatments.

Tamara Markey survived a stroke at 47 in 2019. She is 51 now, and wants black women with high blood pressure to take the risks seriously.

“Think of future you,” Markey said. “You might think, ‘I am young. I am doing this. I am doing that.’ Are you really? Are you going to your doctor? Are you getting checked? Are you making sure your blood pressure is ok? Are you getting some kind of exercise? Trust me. All that food and what you intake takes a big factor in your life.”

Researchers followed 59 thousand black women for 23 years before they published the abstract.

“It may feel like a defeat, maybe when you’re initially reading three times the risk,” said Dr. Ann Jones, an IU Health stroke Neurologist. “But I think this is a real opportunity to improve care for people, and to know that we can do better and we can change the course of outcomes.”

Many of the causes of high blood pressure could be systemic for some patients. Examples include a lack of access to healthcare, healthy foods, and education.

Jones said one of the best ways to fight high blood pressure is knowing you have it.

“Blood pressure especially you don’t have symptoms from so you don’t know if there’s a problem if you’re not going to get it checked,” Jones said. “And so it’s just highlighting the importance of getting people to the doctor and getting those yearly checks. And also taking an active role in our healthcare.”

Markey’s stroke cost her part of her vision and the use of her left hand. As a result, she can no longer work. She said she wishes she took her health seriously sooner.

Now, she quit smoking and underwent weight loss surgery to take back control.

“Not for the weight loss, but to get off all the medicine and for a better healthier view,’ Markey said. “So, I did that and lost 80 pounds, but I got off [most of] the pills. That 20 [pills] became the five.”

Other causes of stroke include diabetes, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

IU Health launched iHEART, which stands for Indianapolis Health Equity, Access, outReach, and Treatment Program. The program is meant to help close the gap of health inequities.