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Harlem Word: Dr. Silvia Amesty talks about how high blood pressure affects young men

Dr. Silvia Amesty, MD, MPH MSEd, a physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Young Men’s Clinic talks about why young men need to think about everything they put in their bodies as well as the importance of regular checkups.

Q: High blood pressure (hypertension) is a big problem in Northern Manhattan. Can you tell us how a young man might recognize the signs of this disease and know when to see a doctor to get himself checked out?

A: High blood pressure (hypertension) is a very big issue in our clinic.  A lot of the young men we see have problems with it.  They may not have hypertension yet, but if they do not take steps to improve their health, they will get hypertension in the future.

The big problem with high blood pressure (hypertension) is that it doesn’t give you many symptoms.  Often, the only way to know whether or not you have it is by going to see the doctor.  Because of that, we see many men in our clinic who already have hypertension but have not been diagnosed because they haven’t seen a doctor in years.  Living with hypertension can do a lot of damage to important organs in your body, so it is really important to make sure young men get checked for it before any damage is done.  Hypertension can be controlled with medication and can even be prevented by changing your diet and exercising.

Click here to learn more about how to change your diet and exercise to prevent hypertension.  

We also do a lot of research at the clinic, aimed at finding out ways to prevent people from getting high blood pressure (hypertension). We help them with what they are eating, for example using less salt , and adding more exercise into their schedules, to lower their chances of getting hypertension.

Q: What are the most important things a man can do to stay healthy, other than just getting regular checkups?

A: Young men need to think more about everything they’re putting in their bodies, including what they are eating, drinking, and smoking.  This may be difficult to do, but it is very important to be aware of how you are treating your body in order to stay healthy.  In general, men should find time once a year to go to their healthcare provider or clinic to get a physical exam and discuss ways to take care of their health.

Harlem Word is a series of interviews with Northern Manhattan health experts, written by HHPC and reviewed by our Health Advisory Board.

4 Comments

As a person in his early twenties, I know from experience first-hand that when I eat junk food, I usually don't feel well afterward, including feeling bloated. I can only imagine how eating fried food or food that's high in sodium and fat on a daily basis can negatively affect one's health. And yet, junk food is plentiful, cheap, and offered at many places, so when I'm walking around Harlem area, I constantly see young people eating it. I agree with the article's point that many people, and perhaps even more true for young people, do not make the connection that eating junk food regularly as part of the diet can lead to a long term problem like hypertension, and discovering the condition on your own is unlikely unless you see a doctor regularly for check-up. More needs to be done to teach young people in particular how their careless dietary choices can have serious health consequences.

We hardly ever see posts like these where men’s’ health issues are discussed and I think this is a definite “must read” for all those young men out there!! I could easily tell the importance of this subject.This excellent talk on some of the most common health issues faced by young men are discussed here and I am sure that reading this will help them to understand their problems and help them to take better care of their bodies!! In fact, I think it’ll help everyone to understand what hypertension is and how to prevent it with the guidance given here!!

I agree with Dr. Amesty about how high blood pressure affects young men. Young men often think they are too young, energetic, and healthy to have any health problems. They also hesitate to go see a doctor for regular check-ups. As for my boyfriend at age 28, he never wanted to go to see a doctor. One day, he had to have physical examination done at doctor’s office due to his new job’s requirements. He found out that he has pre-hypertension with a score of 121/80, right at the border line between healthy and pre-hypertension. Therefore, it is a serious health problem that he needs to pay more attention to because he is more likely to develop high blood pressure which can cause heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. In the past, I had urged him to go get a check-up yearly and advised him not to eat fast food (burgers, burritos, pizzas, hotdogs, fried chicken) regularly or to drink sodas. I also told him he should exercise more; but, he didn’t listen to me about his diet or level of exercise. However after getting the pre-hypertensive result from the doctor, he started to exercise 10 minutes a day and eat less fast foods (once or twice a week instead of daily like before). He has gotten used to reading nutrition facts on food labels to make sure that he eats less saturated fats, and decreases the calories and salt he eats. He also eats lean meats and fish, and more fruits and vegetables than he did before. A month after that doctor visit when he was diagnosed as pre-hypertensive, he went back to have his blood pressure checked, and the score had dropped to 110/70. Now he understands how important the health check-up is and how important diets and physical activity affect his overall health.

Dr. Silvia Amesty is absolutely right when she talks about young men in danger of getting high blood pressure. Back in 2008, I was a 19 years old kid and was probably in the best shape of my life. I ran varsity track for 4 years in high school and even continued to run in my first year of college. However, school was getting tougher and I decided to take a break from track and focus more on my studies. For nearly two years, I barely had any exercise and started to eat very unhealthy. My sleeping habits also got worse, as I was lucky if I even got 5 hours of sleep every night. I was so stressed about school that nothing mattered and would even eat McDonald’s as much as 2 times a day. Before I knew it, it was 2010, and I was turning 21. When I went home for the summer, I decided to get a routine physical exam. As a part of my physical-exam I had to take a blood test and found out that my cholesterol levels were high. To doctor also took my blood pressure reading and found it to be 125/83. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, especially because only two years before, I was 160 pounds and my blood pressure was 116/72, which was excellent. So how had things gone so wrong in two years? I think being a young guy I had the idea that nothing bad was going to happen to me even if I ignored my health and was stressed out and wasn’t eating right because I was always rushing to the next class and I wasn’t able to get to the gym as much and had gained some weight. I asked my doctor what I could do because I was not okay with taking medication. He said to fit in a little bit of exercise every day and get enough sleep. Young guys like me think we only need 5 hours of sleep and we’re good, but that’s wrong in most cases. So, at that moment in my life, I decided that I was going to exercise more, sleep more, not stress so much and definitely exercise and watch what I eat. Today, I am 23 years old and although I am no longer 160 pounds, I am close enough and my cholesterol level and blood pressure are within normal levels.

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