Blacks With Hypertension More Likely to Have Thicker Hearts, Study Finds
Researchers say they may have found a new clue as to why Blacks are at greater risk of dying from heart disease than Whites.
In the largest study of its kind, Blacks with high blood pressure were found to have thicker hearts than Whites with high blood pressure. It’s a condition called left ventricular hypertrophy, or enlarged heart.
“This is a marker for increased damage to the heart and may explain why there is a more adverse outcome of cardiovascular mortality, heart attacks, stroke and heart failure among Blacks,” said lead researcher Dr. Jorge Kizer, an assistant professor of medicine and public health at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York.
Blacks suffer from hypertension more than other racial groups. In 2000, heart disease deaths were 29 percent higher among Blacks and stroke death rates were 40 percent higher than other groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the study, researchers assessed 1,060 Blacks and 580 Whites by measuring their blood pressure, heart wall thickness and vascular tone. The findings revealed that Blacks had a higher average of left ventricular mass index and wall thickness that persisted even after researchers adjusted for age, gender and clinical risk factors such as blood pressure treatment and artery stiffness.
When researchers adjusted for additional factors such as socio-economic level, education, smoking and cholesterol, they found that ventricular hypertrophy was nearly double that of Whites and the increase in heart-wall thickness among Blacks was 2 1/2 times that of Whites.
“It has been well-documented that Blacks have higher cardiovascular mortality rates, but the basis of that is not clear,” said Dr. Mark H. Drazner, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “This study could be a clue that explains the difference in mortality.”
Drazner said the findings, published in the recent issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, indicate that the effect of hypertension on Blacks is likely contributing to the mortality rate.
“The effects of hypertension need to be targeted if you’re going to reduce cardiovascular mortality gap between the two ethnic groups,” he said.
Kizer said that while more studies are needed to confirm the findings, the study could lead to the development of more drugs that can slow left ventricular hypertrophy.
— Associated Press
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