High blood pressure (Hypertension) in people of black African or black Caribbean descent

About me

Hi, I’m Dr. Vinesh Dhir. I currently work as a GP in several SW London surgeries, including HIYOS. Diagnosing and managing hypertension is a significant part of my day-to-day job. Patients with certain ethnic backgrounds have more health implications with hypertension. I hope by writing this blog, I can improve your understanding of these. Please remember that these blog posts should not replace you seeking advice directly from your doctor if you have any concerns.

What is hypertension?

Simply put, this is raised blood pressure. The heart pumps blood to all parts of the body in vessels. Hypertension is a condition where the blood vessels have persistently high pressures. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump.

Hypertension general guidance from the NHS:

“high blood pressure is considered to be from 140/90mmHg (or an average of 135/85mmHg at home) – or 150/90mmHg (or an average of 145/85mmHg at home) if you’re over the age of 80. Ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, while the target for over-80s is below 150/90mmHg (or 145/85mmHg at home)”

Why is hypertension important?

High blood pressure does not usually have noticeable symptoms. However, we don’t treat it, it can lead to serious problems like a heart attack or stroke.

Worryingly, about 1 in 3 people in the UK have hypertension, and the only way to find out if you have it, is by checking your blood pressure.

Why does it matter if you are of black African or black Caribbean descent?

Hypertension is more common in black patients compared with white patients. However, the reasons for this observation are not fully understood.

We do know hypertension in black patients presents earlier in life, and tends to be more severe. Black patients are at higher risk of developing heart-related complications compared to other demographic groups. They are also at a significantly higher risk of stroke due in part to the earlier onset and greater severity of hypertension.

One study found that “every 10 mmHg higher systolic blood pressure increased stroke risk by 24 percent in Black patients compared with 8 percent in White patients”

In addition to stroke, heart failure Is also more common.

Managing hypertension

Your doctor may recommend taking 1 or more blood pressure medications. You may be asked to buy a blood pressure machine to help keep track of your readings. There are also lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your blood pressure.

  • lowering the amount of salt that you eat, and generally having a healthier diet.
  • drinking less alcohol
  • regular exercise
  • reducing caffeine intake
  • stopping smoking

In future blog posts, we will discuss lifestyle management in more detail.


https://www.who.int/health-topics/hypertension#tab=tab_1 (accessed 23rd January 2023)
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/ (accessed 23rdJanuary 2023)
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/burden-of-hypertension-in-black-individuals(accessed 23rd January 2023)

Leave a Reply