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Dietary Sodium and The Impact On Hypertension in African American Women

Updated: Nov 13, 2022

"...Although African American adults are 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, they are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to have their blood pressure under control. African American women are nearly 60 percent more likely to have high blood pressure..." -U.S. Office of Minority Health

Hypertension is the leading cause of premature deaths, contributing to over

500,000 deaths annually in the United States (U.S). The disease affects

approximately 47% (116 million adults) of the adult population. Hypertension is a

modifiable lifestyle risk factor contributing to several cardiovascular diseases (CVD) like

coronary heart disease, heart failure, and sudden death.

Known as a “silent killer,” hypertension is often associated with no warning signs or visible symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 46% of adults in the U.S. are unaware they have hypertension.

For the 2017-2018 NHANES survey period, 51% of adult men have hypertension

compared to 39.7% of adult women. The prevalence of hypertension increased

with age, from 22.4% (18-39 years) compared to 74.5% in adults 60 years or

older. The highest prevalence of hypertension is among the African

American (AA) population (56%), specifically AA women.

An estimated 46.1% of AA women in the U.S. have hypertension. According to the American Heart Association, AA women are at the greatest health risk for CVD and premature death.

African American women develop hypertension at earlier ages, have more

severe conditions, lack the awareness of signs and symptoms, and experience

limited access to equitable health care intervention or treatment.

Hypertension remains the most modifiable risk factor associated with cardiovascular disease. Diet, lifestyle, reduced sodium intake, weight management, and alcohol consumption are risk factors that can be modified to reduce or control the development of

hypertension. Reducing hypertension reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke,

renal disease, CVD, and premature death.

Dietary sodium plays a significant role in hypertension. Excessive sodium intake increases blood pressure. Normal blood pressure (BP) is a BP reading of 120/80 mm Hg or lower. Hypertension stages are categorized by BP readings over 129/89 mm Hg.

By reducing sodium, blood pressure is reduced regardless of age, demographic, or presence of hypertension.

5 Tips to help reduce your daily sodium intake:

  1. Consume more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

  2. Eliminate use of table salt after foods are prepared.

  3. Use more spices and seasonings when adding flavor to foods. Beware of seasoning blends like lemon pepper as they include sodium too.

  4. Swap salted butter for unsalted butter.

  5. READ FOOD LABELS. Frozen and canned food products can be high in sodium. Look for items that are low sodium or no sodium added. Watch out for frozen vegetables that are seasoned or included sauces.

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