High blood pressure kills 8,000 black Americans each year—a number much higher than expected, according to a new study conducted by the University of Rochester’s Department of Family Medicine in New York. Doctors believe that if they find a way to lower the blood pressure level of black Americans to that of average white Americans, lives could be saved.

This is the first study that calculates lives lost due to racial disparities in blood pressure control.

Why the gap? Some blame poverty, cultural habits, inadequate health care and lack of adherence to meds as possible reasons. Often referred to as “the silent killer” since it has no symptoms, high blood pressure can increase the chances of a stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.

But the good news is that high blood pressure is easy to detect and can be controlled by lowering your salt and alcohol intake and exercising regularly.

It is estimated that more than 40 million African Americans suffer from high blood pressure. Learn more about blood pressure and how to control it here.