Inside MPower fitness, Anthony Richmond, is fighting to keep the title he loves most: dad. The 36-year old father says he wants to be healthy for his children and future grandchildren.
His trainer, Jacob Johnson, is also fighting to become the best version of himself. But the two fathers are contending with obstacles out of their control: black men are hit hardest by high blood pressure, a silent killer that often comes without symptoms or warning.
Both say the death of Hollywood director and filmmaker, John Singleton, was a wake up call. Singleton's death was a reminder that black men are hit hardest by high blood pressure, a silent killer that often comes without symptoms or warning.
Singleton, 51, suffered a massive stroke and later died. He struggle with high blood pressure for years. Following his death, Singleton's family pushed for men to check their blood pressure.
“I had to take a hard look at myself and use it as a moment to say, ‘I need to apply a lot of what I teach and work with other people on and take care of business,” Johnson said.
Dr. Mosi Bennett has seen the worst. He is a cardiologist with the Minneapolis Heart Institute.
“As a heart failure cardiologist I see the end stage of uncontrolled blood pressure. It can lead to advanced heart disease, strokes kidney disease and also blindness,” he said. “We know heart disease is the leading cause of death. So getting your BP under control is very important to reduce the risk of having those things happen.”
Dr. Bennett says researchers say some African Americans carry a gene putting them at greater risk for hypertension. The gene, he says, makes them more sensitive to salt.
“This gene identified has been linked to a sensitivity to salt in African Americans but some African Americans don't have this gene,” he said.
For example, according to The American Heart association something as little as as one extra gram of salt could raise blood pressure as much as 5 mm Hg for people who have the gene.
Dr. Bennett says even if your blood pressure has been normal in the past it should be checked every year. Knowing your family history can help determine if you are at greater risk, too. Richmond, who is adopted, says he doesn’t know if his family history includes hypertension. Bennett said it is common to have high blood pressure and not have any symptoms.
Symptoms include but are not limited to fatigue, confusion, vision problems and chest pains.
Johnson says he now monitors his pressure daily.
“It was in the stage two hypertension range at 140/90,” he said. “I was able to drop my blood pressure by ten points on the top and the bottom numbers.”
On Friday, there is a free blood pressure screening.
It is happening at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul.