FRIDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Black people are known to be
at greater risk for high blood pressure, and now a new study
suggests that this places them at an even higher risk for
"Blood pressure is a triple threat to African Americans," said study author Dr. George Howard, chair of biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. For starters, they are more likely to have high blood pressure and less likely to have their blood pressure controlled once it is elevated, he explained.
His research takes the threat one step further.
"Once it is not controlled, the health impact of increased stroke risk is three times larger for African Americans than whites," he said. "Collectively, these pathways account for most of the 300 percent increased risk of stroke for African Americans aged 45 to 64."
The study included almost 28,000 black and white patients who
were followed for more than four years. During this time, there
were 715 strokes. Every 10 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) difference
in systolic blood pressure was associated with a 24 percent
increased stroke risk among black patients, but only an 8 percent
raised risk among white patients. Systolic pressure is the upper
number in a blood pressure reading, and it refers to the pressure
in the arteries when the heart beats.
The findings appear in the Dec. 10 issue of the
Archives of Internal Medicine.
"It is critically important that African Americans not only be treated for their elevated blood pressure, but that the blood pressure is controlled," Howard said. From a public health perspective, better control of high blood pressure among blacks could reduce a burden from stroke estimated to be close to $3.4 billion a year, he said.
In the past, the message was to know your blood pressure
numbers, he said. But, "this is simply not good enough. We need to
send the message to fix your numbers," he said. "The level of
determination by clinicians and patients to get blood pressure
under control needs to be heightened. It is important for everyone,
but critical for African Americans."
A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered
elevated, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood
Dr. Rafael Ortiz, director of the Center for Stroke and
Neuro-Endovascular Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City,
said these differences in blood pressure and stroke risk are likely
the result of both nature and nurture.
"There are cultural differences in how we eat and exercise and genetic differences, and we need to pay attention to all of these and be more aggressive in how we control blood pressure in the black community," he said.
"We know they are more likely to have high blood pressure and more at risk for stroke, so we have to be more aggressive in controlling blood pressure with medication and encouraging them to lose weight and eat a healthy diet," Ortiz said.
Learn about the
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
dietat the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
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