Thursday, December 8, 2005—Hypertension is a dangerous condition where the blood pressure is persistently higher than normal. Hypertension is very common and affects as many as 65 million Americans.

African-Americans are particularly at risk. According to the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Medical College of Cornell University, African-Americans have a higher incidence and prevalence of hypertension compared with Caucasians; 33 percent of Blacks are affected, compared with 25 percent of whites. Even more striking is the disparity in the prevalence of severe or malignant hypertension; it is estimated to be five to seven times more prevalent in Blacks compared with whites.

If you suffer from hypertension, your vessels could be damaged with each beat of your heart, placing you at risk for heart attack, stroke or kidney failure. Although for the vast majority of cases, no direct cause of hypertension is known, certain factors increase your risk of developing the disease such as a sedentary lifestyle, drinking alcohol, and smoking.

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