Free blood pressure screenings today
Published: Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 11:39 p.m.
When it comes to medical conditions, not all people are created equal.
Blacks, for example, are at extremely high risk for developing high blood pressure and such complications as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure. In fact, statistics show that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among blacks.
Doctors at the University of Florida's College of Medicine are attempting to get ahead of that statistical curve this holiday weekend. Working with community outreach programs, they will conduct free blood pressure screenings today and Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Purpose Center. Screenings at other locations will follow.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has earned the title of "the silent killer," because it can begin at an early age and those who have it often don't feel any symptoms.
Although difficult to control, it is easy to diagnose with a simple blood pressure cuff. If caught early, hypertension can be effectively treated with medication, according to Dr. Titte Srinivas, assistant professor in the division of nephrology, hypertension and transplantation.
"Because African-Americans are three times more likely to develop kidney failure as a result of hypertension than Caucasians, regular screenings become more important," said Srinivas.
That advice has the backing of the NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights group, which is preparing to launch a new campaign to promote better health habits and access to medical care for blacks in the United States. The organization will introduce the new health campaign through state and local chapters later this year.
Dr. Lucille Norville Perez, the NAACP's national health director, said the health message is one of the most critical facing blacks today. Statistics looking at blacks and instances of congestive heart failure, a disease caused by the heart's inability to pump enough blood, consistently show that compared with whites, blacks are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease.
"These are issues that never seem to decrease in the community," she said.
UF's Srinivas is part of a research team including Dr. Richard Johnson, professor of nephrology, and Dr. Mark Segal, an assistant professor, studying the basic mechanisms underlying the development of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
The blood pressure screening program that kicks off this weekend will continue throughout the spring. It is free and available to everyone.
Diane Chun can be reached at (352) 374-5041 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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