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The Effects of Mild Hypertension and Type A Behavior in Caribbean Women

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A Woman Can Have a Stroke at Any Age (submitted photo)

Mild hypertension, also referred to as Stage 1 hypertension, is an early form of high blood pressure, and it is the step preceding severe hypertension.  Mild hypertension can easily be reversed, but if it goes undetected, it could lead to serious risks for health complications as it could progress to irreversible hypertension.

Type A behavior is a behavior pattern associated with the development of coronary heart disease, characterized by excessive competitiveness and aggressive, angry, hostile behavior and a fast-paced lifestyle. Persons exhibiting type A behavior are constantly struggling to accomplish ill-defined goals in the shortest time possible.

Even if you carry a proactive lifestyle because the prevalence of hypertension in the African American and Afro-Caribbean population is higher than in other groups ethnicity, race, sex, gender and Type A behaviors place African American and Afro-Caribbean women at great risk.

A 2018 study conducted by the American Heart Association study found that hypertension affected 49 percent of young black women, versus 28 percent of their white counterparts.  Research indicates that only the hostility component or a high level of expressed anger and hostility of Type A personality denotes a significant risk factor for heart disease.

This chronic condition can be prevented by starting to get screened and tested from an early age; commit to getting an annual physical check-up and preventive medical visits; find good ways to manage stress and identify the triggering stressors in your life; find ways to say “no” to requests that would add more stress to your life; exercise and healthy diet, visit a behavioral therapist and give a try to cognitive behavioral therapy.

A multidimensional approach to medicine, i.e., a combination of traditional with Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) can go a long way.  Because stage 1 hypertension is reversible, diet and natural remedies along with traditional medicine can contribute to managing and treating it.

Traditional medicine offers treatments to control blood pressure such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.  ACE blocks the production of hormones that causes the narrowing of blood vessels.

Complementary and alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, offers benefits that help in reducing blood pressure. Electroacupuncture decreases both peak and average systolic blood pressure over 24 hours, this therapy may decrease the risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, heart failure and myocardial infarction in hypertensive patients.

Another option is transcendental meditation — a type of meditation that avoids distracting thoughts and promotes a state of relaxed awareness — was found to help reduce blood pressure number readings more so than other relaxation and meditation forms.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a program that teaches a person how to solve problems in a healthier way. CBT may help lower risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attack in people with type A personalities.

Start by making small lifestyle changes to improve health outcomes:  Make it a point to relax every day; schedule a visit with a primary care provider; consider a few counseling sessions with a behavioral therapist; seek to understand better your type A behavior in order to become aware of your undesirable traits and emphasize on your strengths; meditate, pray, do yoga or tai chi, journal, or reflect on the goodness each day brings.

Frederiksted Health Care (FHC) is a primary care provider, whose mission is to provide non-discriminatory, evidence-based, affordable and accessible health care to the St. Croix community.  Through its 340B Pharmacy Program, FHC patients privately insured are eligible to purchase their prescribed medications through FHC’s contract pharmacies at a discounted to zero cost.   Contact the health care center at 772-0260 to schedule a medical visit.

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