Hypertension and Its Effects on Black Women

Hypertension and Its Effects on Black Women

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Hypertension and Its Effects on Black Women

Hypertension is a serious health condition that requires effective mitigation to prevent affected individuals from developing severe effects. The study examines the factors that contribute towards hypertension and identifies high sodium intake as a major risk factor. The study further reveals how sex and race are major determinants of a person’s ability to excrete excess salt from the kidney. Critical analysis of various resources provide relevant information that helps to understand how Black women are at considerable risk of developing hypertension particularly due to their inability to expel too much salt from the body as effectively as their white counterparts. Consequently, the study presents various suggestions that could help black women to improve their withdrawal of excess sodium in the body. Specifically, the paper examines various options such as minimizing salt consumption, consuming healthy foods, and engaging in physical exercises. Overall, the report argues that black women retain higher sodium levels, leading to a higher percentage being diagnosed with hypertension.

Literature Review

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a medical condition that significantly heightens the risks of other diseases that affect the kidney, brain, and heart. Blood pressure is the force created by moving blood against the artery walls in major blood vessels. Hypertension is when the blood pressure is obviously beyond recommended levels (Grundlingh et al., 2022). Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. The first reading (systolic) displays pressure applied on artery walls when the heart contracts, while the second reading (diastolic) displays the pressure when the heart pauses between beats (Grundlingh et al., 2022). One is termed as having hypertension when is blood pressure is taken in two or more different days, the systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings are ≥140 mmHg and  ≥90 mmHg, respectively. The World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that approximately 1.27 billion adults aged 30-80 years globally have hypertension, with a significant population residing in low- and middle-income countries (WHO, 2022). About 46% of adults with high blood pressure are not aware they have the condition, whereas less than half of adults with the condition (42%) are diagnosed and are on medication. WHO (2022) further informs that an estimated 1 in every 5 adults, which represents 21% of those living with the condition, have adopted mitigating measures and have it under control (WHO, 2022). Today, hypertension is among the leading causes of premature deaths globally. The high rate at which hypertension contributes towards mortality rate is the reason why one of the global aspirations for non-communicable diseases is to combat prevalence by more than 30% between 2010 and 2030 (WHO, 2022).The description suggests that hypertension is a life-threatening disease that requires considerable attention to avert more deaths.

Variations between people of African origin and people of European origin (Whites) hypertensives are extensively perceived as evident and indisputable. Meta-analyses outcomes from scholarly researches incorporating both American and non-American whites and blacks affirmed that the systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) of more Blacks is higher than of Whites, either day or night. Grundlingh et al. (2022) inform that in South Africa and the U.S., people of African descent had a greater prevalence rate of hypertension than whites in the same locality. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently published outcomes from a research carried out from 1999 to 2002. The overall prevalence rate of the condition in the study sample was discovered to be slightly higher than 28%. High prevalence among people of African origin could be attributed to their genetic composition. For instance, researches in the U.S. suggest that African Americans respond differently to hypertension drugs compared to other populations. The high probability of developing hypertension among African Americans, especially black women, could be attributed to other factors such as lack of equal access to health services and being overweight among other health conditions.

Whereas various factors could be attributed to the development of hypertension, high sodium intake is one of the primary reasons for the emergence of this condition. Grillo et al. (2019) inform that the close connection between high blood pressure and sodium consumption is widely acknowledged and supported by various empirical researches. Various factors cause high sodium intake to result in hypertension. Grillo et al. (2019) identify factors such as upsurge in systemic peripheral resistance and water retention to be some of the factors that increase the connection between the high sodium consumption and the intensification in blood pressure. Moreover, unregulated salt consumption increases the likelihood for developing hypertension because the mineral fosters changes in the endothelial function, as well as alterations in the functions and organization of the large elastic arteries (Brown, A., et al., 2017). Besides, high sodium consumption is responsible for hypertension because it triggers changes in sympathetic activity (Grillo et al., 2019). The information about the possibilities of developing hypertension from consuming large amounts of salt urge those at risk to take effective precautions.  

The knowledge that sodium consumption results impacts significantly on vascular hemodynamics, which refers to the various elements determining the pressure of blood flow, call on those whose salt intake is high or are living with hypertension to consider reducing their intake as much as possible. It is imperative to know what amounts to extreme sodium consumption. The WHO define excessive sodium intake as more than 5 grams every day (Grillo et al., 2019). The amount has been identified to generate a substantial upsurge in blood pressure and has been associated with beginning of hypertension and related heart problems. Other than high sodium consumption, include age (the likelihood of hypertension escalates as one grows older), race, family history, being overweight, smoking, inadequate potassium in the diet, and lack of physical exercises (Grillo et al., 2019). Additional research in this area would help to understand how sodium intake facilitate the development of hypertension, especially with regard to individual race and sex.


The most suitable research design for this study is a systematic literature review, which entails seeking information from various relevant sources. The process entails identifying, selecting, and critically evaluating and assessing scholarly works and researches to respond to a clearly identified or created research question. The systematic literature review approach is suitable for this study because it provides much awareness about what other scholars have found about the topic. The selected sources for this systematic literature review are; Cheng et al. (2019), Wenner et al. (2018), and Harris et al. (2018). The sources are suitable for this study because they explicitly address the matter under investigation, which is whether more black women have high sodium content in their kidneys that increase their chances of developing hypertension.


The analysis of the various sources reveal that the capacity of black women to withdraw excess sodium from the kidneys is not as effective as that of their white counterparts. The scrutiny of the selected literature propose that high blood pressure may emerge from the kidneys (Cheng et al., 2019). The study further reveals that in people undergoing kidney transplantation there is a heightened probability of developing high blood pressure if there is a history of this condition in the donor’s family. Bearing in mind that the kidney is the principal site for handling sodium, ethnic and sex disparities in sodium control by the kidneys may well be a substantial cause of hypertension (Cheng et al., 2019). With regard to high sodium intake, whites (men and women) retain more salt and experiences substantial increase in blood pressure than black women (Wenner et al., 2018). This is called sodium sensitivity. For hypertensives and normotensives, the blood pressure reaction for African Americans to salt load is more sensitive, and there is a decreased capacity to remove sodium load, contrasted with Whites. Harris et al. (2018) argue that sodium retention could possibly be an adaptive feature in people who originally hail from areas with hot climate where salt is inadequate. As foods have more salt nowadays, the mechanism would not function as appropriately and would cause a surge in high blood pressure and extracellular fluid volume, but this has turned out to be problematic to prove definitively.


The information provides valuable insight into why black women report high cases of hypertension, an awareness that may help to handle the condition more appropriately. Various evidence support the hypothesis that whites have superior ability to eject excess salt from the kidneys compared to blacks. Grillo et al. (2019) inform that it has long been recognized that there is considerable differences in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone construction between Whites and Blacks. Another reason for this phenomenon could be that levels of renin in the plasma and aldosterone levels are considerably higher among black people than in Whites. The lower levels of aldosterone and renin are not associated to more dietary consumption of sodium since there is no connection between salt consumption and plasma renin activity (Wenner et al., 2018). This indicates disconnect between plasma renin activity and salt consumption because of the retention of salt by the kidneys and suppression of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone through negative response.


The research findings illustrate the need to embrace measures that would help to reduce sodium levels among Blacks, especially among women whose ability to excrete this element is not as effective as it happens in Whites. Grillo et al. (2019) encourage those at risk to minimize sodium consumption by stating that a decrease in dietary sodium not only lowers the blood pressure and cases of hypertension, but is also related to a drop in morbidity and mortality from heart-related complications. Grillo et al. (2019) further assert that sustained modest decrease in salt consumption triggers a significant drop in blood pressure in both normotensive and hypertensive individuals, regardless of their ethnicity and gender, with substantial drops in systolic blood pressure for significant decrease in sodium intake. Consequently, black women need to adopt a range of measures that would help to reduce facilitate loss of sodium intake now that it is apparent people of African lineage have lesser abilities to extract excess salt compared to Whites and their male colleagues (Grundlingh et al., 2022). An effective approach is to reduce individual consumption of salt. Consequently, one should find some information from various sources about the suitable portion to ensure they do not go beyond recommended levels. Another suitable approach would be to consume foods that have high potassium levels because this electrolyte boosts how the kidneys excrete unwanted salt. Some of the most preferable foods that help to remove surplus salt in the kidneys, include vegetables, fruits, and watermelons among others (Grundlingh et al., 2022). Black women who live with hypertension due to high sodium levels in the body can also engage in exercises that make them sweat because sweat largely comprises of 45-70 mmol/L of sodium, resulting in roughly 30-80 mmol of sodium eliminated in a single session with sweat levels 0.5 to1.5 luteinizing hormone (L/h). Otherwise, failing to take appropriate measures could result in substantial harm.


More black women have high sodium content in their body, which increases their likelihood for developing hypertension. The study identifies excess intake of salt to be a major cause of hypertension among males and females alike. However, naturally, the capacity of black women to remove excess sodium build-up from the kidneys is not as effective as that of Whites. The revelation affirms that functions in the kidney play crucial roles in determining the development of hypertension because high sodium levels is associated with the development of hypertension yet the kidneys are responsible for the removal of excessive amounts. Therefore, when the kidneys lack the capacity to excrete too much sodium as effectively as possible, the chances of developing hypertension increases significantly.


Brown, A., et al. (2017). Improving heart health among Black/African American women using civic engagement: A pilot study. BMC Public Health, 17(112), https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-3964-2

Cheng, Y., Kanaya, A., & Araneta, M. (2019). Prevalence of diabetes by race and ethnicity in the

            United States, 2011-2016. JAMA, 322(24), 2389-2398. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.19365

Grillo, A., Salvi, L., Coruzzi, P., Salvi, P., Parati, G. (2019). Sodium intake and hypertension. Nutrients, 11(9), doi: 10.3390/nu11091970

Grundlingh, N., Zewotir, T., Roberts, D., & Manda, S. (2022). Assessment of prevalence and

risk factors of diabetes and pre-diabetes in South Africa. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 41(7), https://jhpn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41043-022-00281-2

Harris, R., et al. (2018). Sodium and potassium excretion in an adult Caribbean population of

African descent with a high burden of cardiovascular disease. BMC Public Health, 18(998), https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-018-5694-0

WHO. (2022). Hypertension. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension

Wenner, M., Paul, E., Robinson, A., Rose, W., & Farquhar, W. (2018). Acute NaCl loading reveals a higher blood pressure for a given serum sodium level in African American compared to Caucasian adults. Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01354

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