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Doctors Say Hypertension Can Lead To Heart Disease

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Sep 06 2011 07:20:03 AM CDT
Updated On: Sep 06 2011 11:24:12 AM CDT

Early menopause is what Leslie Lee thought was happening two years ago. "I just started dripping sweat. My back was drenched with sweat. I felt really light headed. My heart just started racing," she said.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

Early menopause is what Leslie Lee thought was happening two years ago. "I just started dripping sweat. My back was drenched with sweat. I felt really light headed. My heart just started racing," Lee told News 5.

Instead, she had two heart arrhythmias. That's when your heart starts beating abnormally, and it can be life threatening. Leslie does have family history of heart problems, but at such a young age, the news came as a shock. "That's not going to happen to me," Lee said. "That happens to all my older family members, not me."

Her doctor said it's likely her high blood pressure helped trigger the arrythmias.

"After having my kids, my health kind of got put on the back burner," said Lee. That's when problems began. And high blood pressure, or hypertension, is something that's fairly common, especially in African American women like Lee.

"The prevalence of hypertension in African American women is about 35 to 40 percent. Whereas in other races, it's about 20 to 25 percent," said Dr. Arun Rao, an electrophysiologist at Wellmont Health Systems.

To fix the problem, Lee had a catheter ablasion. That's when doctors insert small, thin wires in blood vessels, where they can then locate the tissures that trigger the arrhytmia, and the destroy them.

Since having the procedure, Lee said she's back to her old self, but she wants to make sure her daughters and others are aware of what can happen when you're not watching your health at all times.

"Even if you have history, even if you don't...continually check and monitor. Make healthy choices, and do the things that you need to do, because you only get one life," said Lee. One life she's now ready to live to the fullest.

We learned another fact about hypertension. Black women are also at greater risk for early onset hypertension that occurs in their twenties and thirties. They're also more likely to have the severe form.