High Blood Pressure Poses Bigger Stroke Risk for Blacks, Study Says

(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 stroke.

“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.


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