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Addressing Blood Pressure Disparities in MN During Stroke Month

The death rate from stroke in the United States is more than one third higher in some communities of color than among the white population. (Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)
The death rate from stroke in the United States is more than one third higher in some communities of color than among the white population. (Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)
May 2, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The American Heart Association is launching Minnesota's first blood pressure kiosk aimed specifically at health disparities for underserved communities.

The kiosk will be at the Horizons Unlimited food shelf at the Division of Indian Work in Minneapolis for the next three years.

Dr. Haitham Hussein, medical director of Regions Hospital Comprehensive Stroke Center, says there are higher rates of under-treated high blood pressure in rural communities and among people of color.

He says hypertension is a silent killer, but a risk people can do something about, once they know they have it.

"Things that are under our control – high blood pressure, which is probably the most important one – are not just conditions without consequences,” Hussein stresses. “They lead to bigger consequences."

May is American Stroke Month. To learn more about the heart association's Check, Change, Control blood pressure program, go to heart.org/bloodpressure.

According to the Heart Association, the heart disease death rate is 55% higher for Native Americans than whites. The group says the stroke death rate is more than a third higher in African-Americans and Asians.

Hussein says there are broad health disparities for rural areas and communities of color. He says health problems tend to be less well controlled, especially in minority populations.

"African-American and Native American and Hispanic,” he states. “Even when we identify high blood pressure, the control of blood pressure is not as good."

He urges people to talk to their doctors to see if they should address their blood pressure with diet, exercise, and possibly medication.

Hussein says folks tend to think of exercise as a way to lose weight, but it's more than that.

"The different chemical substances that are released in the bloodstream when we exercise are good and healthy for the heart and the mind even if we're not losing weight," he explains.

According to the Heart Association, stroke is the fifth most common cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States.

The group says nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure – the leading cause of stroke – but many are unaware they have it because it often has no physical symptoms until too late.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - MN