Media contacts:
Sherry Baker, 404/377-1398,
Kathi Ovnic, 404/727-9371,
Janet Christenbury, 404/727-8599,
May 17, 2002


African Americans Have Special Reasons To Take National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month To Heart, Says Emory Cardiothoracic Surgeon William Cooper

"African Americans are at increased risk for hypertension. In fact, thirty five percent of people in the black community suffer from high blood pressure. Even more alarming is the fact hypertension accounts for twenty percent of deaths among African Americans each year – about twice the figure for Caucasians. We tend to develop cardiovascular disease and renal disease as a result of having hypertension far more often than our white counterparts," says Dr. Cooper, who treats heart patients in the Carlyle Fraser Heart Center at Emory Crawford Long Hospital.

The good news, however, is that African Americans have a strong weapon they can use to fight and win against hypertension. The key, says Dr. Cooper, is education. "You need to find out if you have elevated blood pressure and, if you do, work to get it down. If you have normal blood pressure, you need to be aware of what you can do to make sure it stays at a healthy level," he explains.

Dr. Cooper encourages African Americans to develop a proactive, positive attitude about their health. "We need to stop thinking that high blood pressure is just part of life in the African American community. In fact, factors that contribute to high blood pressure, including excessive body weight, and physical inactivity, are problems in virtually all American communities. They are often more so in the African American community, however, in part because of the large number of African Americans who live in lower socioeconomic settings," says Dr. Cooper, Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Emory. " But these are things we can control and change by becoming educated about hypertension and making healthy lifestyle choices -- like being more active, eating less salty food and more fruits and vegetables, and keeping weight under control."

Dr. Cooper advises having your blood pressure checked once a year – more often if you have high blood pressure. " It is easy, quick, and painless. You can have it checked at your physicianÕs office, your neighborhood clinic, or at health fairs at your church or local mall," he says. "If you find out your blood pressure is high, donÕt panic. What you should be afraid of is not knowing your blood pressure. If you learn have hypertension, use that information as an opportunity to take control of your health and work with your doctor to reduce your hypertension. Remember that knowledge is power."

Since 1975 Emory Crawford Long Carlyle Fraser Heart Center has been recognized internationally for its work in the diagnosis treatment and prevention of heart and lung disease. The Carlyle Fraser Heart Center is part of the Emory Heart Center ranked in the top ten AmericaÕs Best Hospitals by US News & World Report. Emory Hospitals include Emory University Hospital, a 587-bed hospital located on the Emory University campus in northeast Atlanta, Crawford Long Hospital, Emory's 583-bed, community-based hospital in midtown and Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital, a 100-bed hospital located on the Emory campus. Emory Hospitals are components of EMORY HEALTHCARE, the most comprehensive health care system in Atlanta. Other components of EMORY HEALTHCARE are: The Emory Clinic, the Emory Children's Center, the jointly owned Emory-Adventist Hospital, and EHCA, LLC, a limited liability company created in collaboration with HCA Healthcare.

Return to May Index

For more general information on The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center
call Health Sciences Communication's Office at 404-727-5686,
or send e-mail to

Copyright © Emory University, 2001. All Rights Reserved.