High blood pressure in blacks not genetic - Study
Monday, January 17, 2005
copied as 'fair use'
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A number of studies have shown that
African Americans are more likely than Caucasians to have high
blood pressure. Although genetic factors are often blamed, new
research suggests that this racial gap is largely due to envi-
ronmental -- and potentially preventable -- factors.
The new study compared the rates of high blood pressure (hyper-
tension) between black and white subjects in different popula-
For blacks, populations in Nigeria, Jamaica and the US were
studied, while for whites, populations in the US, Canada and
five European countries were studied.
If racial origin played a major role in high blood pressure,
then rates of the condition for each race would be expected to
be about the same regardless of where people lived. Instead, the
researchers found wide variation in rates, ranging from 14 per-
cent for blacks in some geographic regions to 44 percent in
other places. For whites, the rates ranged from 27 percent to 55
percent depending on where people lived.
The lowest rate of high blood pressure (13.5 percent) was among
blacks living in Nigeria, while the highest (55.3 percent) was
among whites in Germany.
Among blacks, rates of the condition were higher for people liv-
ing in more industrialized places. For example, Nigerians had a
rate of 13.5 percent, Jamaicans a rate of 28.6 percent and US
blacks a rate of 44 percent.
The traditional emphasis placed on genetics to explain the large
number of African Americans with high blood pressure could be
distracting the healthcare community from fighting the lifestyle
factors that are actually causing the condition, the study's au-
The authors, Dr. Richard S. Cooper from Loyola University
Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois, and colleagues,
published their report in the January 5 issue of the journal BMC
Cooper, R.S. et al. - An international comparative study of
blood pressure in populations of European vs. African descent.
BMC Medicine, 3:2, January 5, 2005
Accessed Jan. 18, 2005