The fact that black people have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure than white people has been known about for a long time. However a new report published online and in the print version of the journal Hypertension suggests that black people move from a pre-hypertension condition to full-blown high blood pressure much more quickly too.
Preventing high blood pressure may be achieved by lifestyle changes as well as medication according to the study. The study further states that the consequences of high blood pressure could then be avoided too.
The definition of pre-hypertension is when someone’s systolic (pumping) pressure is between 120 and 139, and diastolic (resting) reading is between 80 and 89. To classify someone as having high blood pressure (or hypertension), then their blood pressure reading must be 140/90 or higher. A normal blood pressure reading is one of less than 120/80.
In the study, medical records from 18,865 people aged from 18 to 85 were analyzed. The people came from 197 health clinics in south eastern U.S. and the study looked at the period 2003 until 2009. The racial breakdown was 30% black and 70% others.
Although the reasons why are not yet known, it was found that blacks’ risk of developing hypertension if they had pre-hypertension was 35% higher than a white person. It was also noted that they tended to contract hypertension as early as one year earlier than white people.
The study author Anbesaw Selassie, an epidemiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston asserts, "This means the well-known end-points of hypertension, such as kidney failure, stroke and heart failure could occur faster in blacks than in whites".
Although race was a risk factor it was not the only one seen in the report. Other people who had an increased risk of a rapid advance from pre-hypertension to hypertension were those aged 75 and older, people who were overweight or obese, or had type 2 diabetes and those with a systolic blood pressure reading of 130 to 139.
In relation to the cost of treating hypertension, the study author suggests that "it is time to seriously consider the use of safe and cheap blood pressure-lowering medicines to arrest the progression of pre-hypertension”, in high risk individuals. It has been shown by earlier research that this area is suited to preventative actions. The research clearly identified the "effective, practical, and cost-effectiveness” when compared to the cost of treating hypertension and any complications which may arise".
Lowering the risk of high blood pressure can be achieved by lifestyle changes, eat more fruit and vegetables, take less salt and exercise regularly will all help. In addition there is a special diet recommended to help lower blood pressure. Known as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) it is high in fruit and vegetables and whole grains and only uses low fat or non fat dairy produce.
Dr. Stephen Green, the chief of cardiology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. agrees that the report holds very important information and says, "Blacks with pre-hypertension develop high blood pressure quicker than whites". He then adds, "We should be more aggressive with medication in people who are at high risk".