Hypertension kills more blacks than whites

According to the American Heart Association, hypertension or elevated blood pressure (BP) is a leading, preventable cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States and throughout the world.  Now a recent study shows that blacks in the US have a greater risk of disorders involving blood pressure.

The American Heart Association has issued a Call to Action to tackle this key medical killer citing salt as a key factor in hypertension.  Some of the key points they cite are:

  • The relation of hypertension and adverse health outcomes is direct, progressive, consistent, continuous, independent, and etiologically relevant throughout the range of usual BP starting at a level of approximately 115/75 mm Hg.
  • A diverse body of evidence has implicated excess sodium intake in the pathogenesis of elevated BP.
  • Independent of its effects on BP, excess sodium intake adversely affects the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels.
  • Current intake of sodium greatly exceeds 1500 mg/d, the upper level of intake recommended by the American Heart Association and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee.
  • The potential public health benefits of sodium reduction are enormous and extend to virtually all Americans.

A recent US study indicates that African Americans are at significantly higher risk given increased levels of hypertension.  The study was funded by the state of South Carolina, the U.S. Army, the National Institutes of Health, the American Society of Hypertension, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Its clear conclusion is that Blacks Face Faster Progression to Hypertension..

The study showed African-Americans with greater risk for disorders involving blood pressure, blacks without baseline hypertension developed the condition substantially faster than whites, according to health records for nearly 19,000 people.  After adjusting for age, baseline blood pressure, sex, body mass index, and presence of chronic kidney disease or type 2 diabetes, blacks had a 35% greater likelihood of progressing to hypertension relative to whites.

It was also pointed out that that “prehypertension” — blood pressure above the upper limit of normal (119 mm Hg systolic and 79 mm Hg diastolic) but less than 140 mm Hg systolic or 90 mm Hg diastolic — was a significant risk factor for progression to overt hypertension. Among the 12,045 people who became hypertensive during the study, 25.5% were normotensive at baseline, compared with 45% of those whose blood pressures never reached the hypertension thresholds.

Edward D. Frohlich, MD, of the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, observed.that studies in the 1970s and early 1980s indicated that blacks are more susceptible both to hypertension and to the morbidities associated with it.  However the studies did not prompt the level of additional investigation they deserved.

He asserted that salt intake may be a key factor behind the clinical observations.

There is ample experimental and clinical evidence available that clearly shows that prolonged dietary excess of salt is responsible for the structural and functional impairment of the heart and kidneys and is associated with an ever-increasing clinical prevalence of cardiac failure and end-stage renal disease.

Clearly whatever our background, keen attention to our blood pressure and factors that may cause hypertension are essential and a reduction in salt intake is one of the most important steps to take.

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