Blacks Develop High Blood Pressure a Year Ahead of
TUESDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- It's well known that
blacks are at greater risk for developing high blood pressure than
whites are, but new research now suggests they also progress more
rapidly from a pre-hypertension state to full-blown high blood
The findings, published online and in the October print issue of
Hypertension, suggest that intervening earlier with medication, as well as lifestyle changes, may help prevent high blood pressure and some of its consequences among people who are at the greatest risk.
Pre-hypertension is defined as a systolic (pumping) pressure
between 120 and 139, and a diastolic (resting) reading between 80
and 89. High blood pressure (or hypertension) is a blood pressure
reading of 140/90 or higher. A blood pressure reading of less than
120/80 is considered ideal.
Researchers analyzed electronic medical records of 18,865 adults
aged 18 to 85 from 197 health clinics in the southeastern United
States between 2003 and 2009. Thirty percent of the study
participants were black.
According to the findings, blacks had a 35 percent greater risk
of progressing from pre-hypertension to hypertension and tended to
develop the condition up to one year earlier than their white
counterparts. Exactly why this occurs is not fully understood.
"This means the well-known end-points of hypertension -- such as kidney failure, stroke, heart failure -- could occur faster in blacks than in whites," said study author Anbesaw Selassie, an epidemiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Race was not the only risk factor seen in the new study. Other
individuals who were at increased risk for rapid progression to
hypertension included those with systolic blood pressure ranging
from 130 to 139, as well as those participants aged 75 and older.
Other risk factors include being overweight or obese and having
type 2 diabetes.
In high-risk individuals, "it is time to seriously consider the
use of safe and cheap blood pressure-lowering medicines to arrest
the progression of pre-hypertension," Selassie said.
Previous research has demonstrated that such early therapeutic
preventive measures are "effective, practical, and cost-effective
if one considers the cost of caring for hypertension and its
complications," Selassie added.
"This is very important information," said Dr. Stephen Green, the chief of cardiology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. "Blacks with pre-hypertension develop high blood pressure quicker than whites," he said.
Lifestyle changes, like losing weight if you are overweight or
obese, consuming less salt and eating a healthy diet can help lower
this risk. The most widely recommended diet to lower blood pressure
is the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which
focuses on fruits and vegetables, low-fat or non-fat dairy products
and whole grains, he added.
Still, Green noted, "we should be more aggressive with
medication in people who are at high risk."
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on
high blood pressure.
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