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Celebrities urge African Caribbean community to Know their Numbers!

Television and radio personalities Rudolph Walker, (Eastenders), Angela Wynter (Eastenders), Josie D’Arby (Celebrity Master Chef), Ashley Walters (Hustle), Tim Campbell (The Apprentice) and Daddy Ernie (Choice FM) are supporting Know your Numbers Week! by urging the African Caribbean community to reduce their risk of high blood pressure.

The celebrities are encouraging people to have a free blood pressure check during Know Your Numbers! Week 2008 which is being launched by UK charity the Blood Pressure Association on Monday 8 Spetember.

During this year’s campaign, the Blood Pressure Association wants all adults to take action to avoid the blood pressure 'time bomb'.

There are currently 16 million adults in the UK with high blood pressure, but at least five million of them don’t know it because the condition doesn’t have obvious symptoms. High blood pressure - often referred to as the silent killer - is the major cause of strokes and heart attacks; it also causes dementia, kidney disease, disability and even death. People with uncontrolled high blood pressure are three times more likely to die from a stroke or heart attack than someone with a healthy blood pressure.

High blood pressure is raised two to threefold in the African Caribbean community,* - legendary soul singer Isaac Hayes died from a stroke related to high blood pressure - and almost 45 per cent of African-Caribbean men and 40% of African-Caribbean women are affected by the condition.**

Actor, Rudolph Walker says, “It’s important to raise awareness of this campaign amongst the African Caribbean community and encourage them to check their blood pressure, because so many African Caribbeans suffer from high blood pressure but are unaware of it”.

The Blood Pressure Association says part of the reason high blood pressure may be more prevalent in the African Caribbean community could be due to traditional African-Caribbean dishes being high in salt, which raises blood pressure.

Research* which analysed several popular African and Caribbean meals*** discovered more than a whole day’s salt limit in a single meal. For example, fried fish and yam pottage contained 10.75g of salt in a single serving, Jollof rice and Suya chicken contained 10.27g for a single serving, brown fish stew 9.14g and Calypso chicken with rice contained 9.34g in a serving.

This suggests that many black people following traditional diets will be eating three or four times the recommended levels of salt, and putting their health in jeopardy.

Dr Mike Mead, a Medical Advisor at the Blood Pressure Association, said: “High blood pressure can affect anyone, but people of African Caribbean descent have a greater risk of developing the condition. Despite this, it’s a condition that too few people are aware of or take seriously. So we are urging all adults, especially those from the African Caribbean community to take advantage of a free blood pressure check during Know your Numbers! Week. It’s quick, free and painless and could save your life.”

Know Your Numbers Week! is the nation’s biggest blood testing event which encourages people to have free blood pressure check at one of 3,000 ‘Pressure Stations’ across the UK. Pressure Stations are being run by health professionals at pharmacies, shopping centres, street markets, workplaces, sports venues and many other community locations from Monday 8-Sunday 14 September.

Pressure stations have also been set up at several churches with mainly African Caribbean congregations.

To find out where you can get your nearest free check, visit the Blood Pressure Association's website at www.bpassoc.org.uk/kyn or call 020 8772 4994.


Notes to Editors:

  • For more information contact Jenni Asiama or Lekezia Bwalya at the A.M.A Consultancy on: 020 8778 8824 or info@theamaconsultancy.com or the Blood Pressure Association’s Press Office on 020 8772 4984 or smassey@sgul.ac.uk.
  • During Know your Numbers! Week 2007, the Blood Pressure Association tested the blood pressure of 253,000 adults across the UK and discovered a staggering 40 per cent of them had high readings
  • A healthy blood pressure is a level of 120/80 or less. You should aim to get your blood pressure to this level. 140/90 is the level used to diagnose high blood pressure for everyone, whatever your age.

*FP Cappuccio et al. (1997), "Prevalence, detection, and management of cardiovascular risk factors in different ethnic groups in south London", Heart, 78, 555-563
** Joint Health Surveys Unit (2001) Health Survey for England 1999.
***Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) is a group of the UK’s leading experts on salt and its effects on health. It is working to reach a consensus with the food industry and government over the harmful effects of a high salt diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of salt in processed foods as well as salt added to cooking and at the table, so that salt intake in the UK is reduced in adults to below 6g a day, and less for children.
4. African and Caribbean meals surveyed from five takeaway outlets in the London area: January 2006

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