Blood pressure rising: a tale of southern blues

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Hey folks, here’s a surprising fact for you: Over the past two decades, the number of older folks rushed to hospitals for sudden high blood pressure has increased dramatically across the United States.

And it looks like the biggest brunt is being borne by our Black American pals, especially those living in the South.

Let’s Talk Numbers

Now you might wonder, “Is this a big deal?” Well, yes, indeed. A team of smarty-pants scientists from Yale University dug into some serious data.

They focused on people over 65, the ones covered by Medicare. What they found was a bit worrying: Hospital visits due to severe high blood pressure had more than doubled between 1999 and 2019.

Every year, there was a 5.6% increase in hospitalizations for high blood pressure emergencies.

But for Black folks, this number was even higher, around 6%. And between 2017 and 2019, Black patients were hospitalized three times more often than others.

The Southern Woe

So, what’s up with the South? Well, this increase is in line with what medical folks call the “stroke belt.” It’s a fancy term for areas where stroke rates are unusually high. And yes, you guessed it right: the South falls in this belt.

Why Worry?

Now, why are we worried about high blood pressure? When your blood pressure readings consistently hit 130 mm Hg or higher for systolic pressure (the top number) or 80 mm Hg or more for diastolic pressure (the bottom number), it’s considered elevated.

This high pressure can lead to all kinds of problems like heart attacks and strokes. Not cool, right?

What’s Next?

This research is a wake-up call for us all. We need to pay more attention to our blood pressure, especially if we’re older, and double especially if we’re Black Americans living in the South.

This research is a reminder to watch what we eat, to move our bodies a bit more, and to keep our stress levels in check. If we don’t, our blood pressure might just give us a surprise we’d rather avoid.

The detailed findings of this research are published in a journal called Circulation, thanks to the hard work of a team led by a scientist named Yuan Lu. Let’s use these findings to make sure our future is healthier and happier!

Remember, folks, keeping our blood pressure under control isn’t just about avoiding hospital visits. It’s about living our best, longest lives. So, let’s get to it!

If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies that early time-restricted eating could help improve blood pressure, and how fasting may help reverse high blood pressure.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies about 5 medicines to treat high blood pressure, and results showing vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes.

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