Film director John Singleton‘s untimely death shocked many and now his family is urging Black men to be more aware of high blood pressure, a silent killer that often comes without symptoms and affects Black men more than others.
Hypertension is a condition that many African Americans struggle with.
Oscar-nominated director and screenwriter Singleton, 51 and the father of seven, suffered from the disease, according to a statement by his family. He was just 24 when he became the first African-American filmmaker to receive a Best Director Oscar nomination for the coming-of-age drama “Boyz N the Hood.” Singleton suffered a stroke on April 17 and died on April 28.
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African-American men are at greatest risk of having a stroke in the U.S. and are more apt to have a stroke at a younger age than others, according to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The prevalence of high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) in African Americans in the U.S. is among the highest in the world. Almost 40 percent of African-American men and women have high blood pressure. For African Americans, high blood pressure also develops earlier in life and is usually more severe,” Dr. Carrie G. Lenneman, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told NBC News.
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Singleton’s family said he struggled with high blood pressure for many years.
TMZ reported that Singleton had checked himself into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after experiencing weakness in his leg following a flight back from Costa Rica. He was reportedly placed in a medically-induced coma after suffering a stroke while in the hospital.
In a statement, the Singleton’s family stressed the need to raise awareness of high blood pressure in the African-American community and urged people to familiarize themselves with symptoms.
Among the symptoms are severe headaches, confusion, vision problems, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain. But only a blood pressure reading by a professional can diagnose hypertension.
“Like many African Americans, Singleton quietly struggled with hypertension. More than 40 percent of African American men and women have high blood pressure, which also develops earlier in life and is usually more severe. His family wants to share the message with all to please recognize the symptoms by going to Heart.org,” a representative said.
About 85 million people in the U.S. have high blood pressure. The prevalence of hypertension in African Americans in the U.S. is among the highest in the world, according to the American Heart Association, Blavity reported.