Health Living Healthy Heart

BHF at Notting Hill Carnival

1 in 4 African Caribbean adults unaware they’re at higher risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.

Around one in four African Caribbean adults in the UK don’t realise their ethnicity increases their risk of high blood pressure and diabetes – major risk factors for stroke – according to new figures from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

African Caribbean communities are twice as likely to have a stroke as people of European origin, so it’s vital they understand how their lifestyle affects contributing – risk factor – conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

African Caribbean communities have the highest risk of high blood pressure for ethnic minorities in the UK, and they’re more than twice as likely to develop diabetes than the general UK population.

Worryingly, the latest figures show:

• More than half of African Caribbean adults (51%) don’t know the recommended ideal level for blood pressure

• Only 36% know the recommended amount of physical activity they need a week to stay healthy is150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity activity

• Less than half of those surveyed (46%) know the recommended maximum daily allowance for salt is one teaspoon (6g)

• Just 14% know the recommended maximum waist circumference is less than 37 inches for men and 31.5 inches for women.

Keeping active, reducing your salt intake and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight are all key lifestyle factors that can help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes. This in turn reduces your risk of a stroke or heart disease.

Ali Orhan, Project Manager for black and minority ethnic communities at the BHF, said: “The fact that one in four African Caribbean adults don’t realise their ethnicity increases their risk of health problems that can then put their heart health on the line is very worrying.

“The good news is that you can make simple changes to your lifestyle, such as reducing the amount of salt you eat and getting more active to help you lead a long and healthy life. The challenge now is to make sure African Caribbean communities take on board just how important these changes could be.”

Lindsay Thompson, from Nottingham, has high blood pressure. But with careful management and changes to his lifestyle, he leads an active and healthy life.

He said: “Cooking is my favourite pastime. But when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure I had to rethink my diet, especially the amount of salt I was using. It was certainly a challenge to think of different ways to enhance the flavours of the food but it was fun to experiment!

“It’s really important for people from my background to be aware of the increased risks of high blood pressure and heart disease. It’s also our duty to ensure that our children are properly educated so they don’t have to suffer in the future.”

The BHF has a free booklet called Health Living Healthy Heart for African Caribbean’s. You can order or download this and a range of other resources to help keep your heart healthy for free at the BHF’s website.