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Asian American Women Are at Risk for High Blood Pressure

Guest post by the National Institute of Health’s Heart Truth Program.

Blood pressure checks are a routine part of most medical appointments. Some surprising statistics suggest that Asian American women aren’t getting the follow-up support they need to lower high blood pressure. Only about 14 percent of Asian American women with high blood pressure have it under control, a 2021 report revealed.[1]

Among women ages 20 and older in the U.S, about 40 percent of Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and White women have high blood pressure, as does 58 percent of African American women.[2] But Asian American women are the least likely of these groups to have their high blood pressure controlled.[3] Between 20 to 25 percent of White, Hispanic/Latino, and African American women with high blood pressure have it controlled.[4]

What’s preventing Asian American women from getting the help they need to control their blood pressure? The risks of high blood pressure may not be made clear to them. They also may lack the social support to help them take their blood pressure medications. Additionally, healthcare providers may not be prescribing adequate blood pressure medication, since Asian Americans tend to have lower BMIs and better overall cardiovascular health compared to other racial or ethnic groups. [iv][vii] [viii][5]

Healthcare providers play an important role in helping women with high blood pressure keep it under control. They can help their patients appreciate how blood pressure increases their risk for heart disease. Also, they can help them understand what their numbers mean for them. Finally, providers can help patients consider what lifestyle changes to make to lower their blood pressure if it’s high.

Importantly, providers need to support the heart health of people disproportionately affected by heart disease, including Asian Americans.[6] Healthcare providers need to be sure their patients understand the importance of treating high blood pressure and are taking their medications correctly. They also need to discuss what hurdles, such as costs, may keep a patient from taking their medication.

Studies show that when patients get support from a healthcare provider, self-monitoring improves blood pressure control.[x] If a patient is willing to use a home monitor, their monitor should[xi]

  • wrap around their upper arm and fit their arm well;
  • be automated—the cuff inflates itself;
  • store their readings; and
  • be easy to use.

If possible, patients should have a provider make sure they are using their monitor correctly and that it’s measuring accurately.

A healthy lifestyle often can help prevent or control risk factors for heart disease. These risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, overweight or obesity, diabetes, and smoking. The Heart Truth® offers many heart-health education resources for health and community professionals to share information with people in their communities and encourage heart-healthy behaviors such as following a healthy diet and reducing salt (sodium) intake, increasing physical activity, reducing stress, and quitting smoking.

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Month and National High Blood Pressure Education Month, making it a prime time to use resources from The Heart Truth to encourage women to commit to knowing their blood pressure numbers and learning what they can do to control it if it’s high.

For more information about high blood pressure and to find educational resources, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hypertension.


[1] AHA Heart Disease and Stroke Stats 2021. p.E 392 Chart 8-3; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30861288/ >p. 491, sec. 3.2.2; https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/06/26/adjusting-bmi-eliminates-lead-asian-americans-hold-in-heart-health

[2] https://www.heart.org/-/media/phd-files-2/science-news/2/2021-heart-and-stroke-stat-update/2021_stat_update_factsheet_females_and_cvd.pdf?la=en ; Dr. Mussolino said the differences between the non-African American groups are not statistically significant.

[3] AHA Heart Disease and Stroke Stats 2021. p.E 392 Chart 8-3; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30861288/ >p. 491, sec. 3.2.2; https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/06/26/adjusting-bmi-eliminates-lead-asian-americans-hold-in-heart-health

[4] https://www.heart.org/-/media/phd-files-2/science-news/2/2021-heart-and-stroke-stat-update/2021_stat_update_factsheet_females_and_cvd.pdf?la=en

[iv] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30861288/ >p. 491, sec. 3.2.2

[vii] [vii] AHA Heart Disease and Stroke Stats 2021. p.E 392 Chart 8-3

[viii] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30861288/ >p. 491, sec. 3.2.2; https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/06/26/adjusting-bmi-eliminates-lead-asian-americans-hold-in-heart-health

[5] Exploring racial/ethnic disparities in hypertension care among patients served by health centers in the United States (wiley.com)

[6] Community Health Workers: Role | NHLBI, NIH

[x] AMA Self-measure BP monitoring. Fast Facts.

[xi] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Self-Measured Blood Pressure Monitoring: Action Steps for Public Health Practitioners. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2013. p.8; 

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