‘Silent killer’ hypertension focus of GSU health seminar

Students and city residents attend hypertension seminar discussing the condition that is more common in blacks. Sokunna Yun/GSU Media Bureau

Dr. Paul Muntner, Associate Dean for the School of Public Health at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Sokunna Yun/GSU Media Bureau

Hypertension, commonly called high blood pressure, is one of the most common modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the United States and worldwide. 


High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because it often has no warning signs or symptoms and many people do not know they have it. That’s why it is important to check your blood pressure regularly.


The condition is more common among Blacks than any other race or ethnic group in the United States. Additionally, African-Americans have a higher incidence of hypertension-related CVD and end-stage renal disease. 


Because of these health problems, the Office of Sponsored Programs collaborated with the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry for a seminar on Hypertension in African American adults on Feb 19.


Around 100 people attended the seminar including faculty, staffs and students. 


Dr. Paul Muntner, the Associate Dean for the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and director of the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy, was guest speaker at the seminar.  


High blood pressure is a common and dangerous condition. Having high blood pressure means the pressure of the blood in your blood vessels is higher than it should be. But you can take steps to control your blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. 


“There are seven simple steps that you can take control to prevent your hypertension-related to cardiovascular disease,” Muntner said. “Those steps are manage the blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, get active, eat better, lose weight and stop smoking.” 


According the State of Obesity’s data, Louisiana ranked sixth in the nation for hypertension in 2017. About 39 percent of Louisiana’s adults are living with high blood pressure. The number of people who have hypertension will reach over 1.1 million in 2030. 


On the national level, one of three U.S. adults, or 75 million people, have high blood pressure. Many youth are also being diagnosed with high blood pressure. This common condition increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death for Americans. In fact, close to one-third of Louisiana adults eat vegetables less than once per day, the highest share in the country.


Muntner leads the NIH-funded Jackson Heart Study Hypertension Working Group and is a member of the Antihypertensive Lipid-lowering Trial to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT) steering committee. His research has been published in JAMA, The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine and Circulation. He has also been featured on CNN and the New York Times and Washington Post.  In 2015, Muntner was awarded a grant to serve as the director for a strategically focused research network hypertension center from the American Heart Association. 


Muntner received his PhD in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in 2001.