|NEWSRoom | Source: American College of Emergency Physicians|
High Blood Pressure Correlates to Heart Disease in African-Americans
Ninety percent of patients with elevated blood pressure, nearly all of whom were black, tested positive for subclinical hypertensive heart disease, despite having no symptoms or history of heart disease. The results of a small study of urban emergency patients were published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine ("Subclinical Hypertensive Heart Disease in African-American Patients with Elevated Blood Pressure in an Inner-City Emergency Department").
"These results present a tremendous opportunity to screen for heart disease before it becomes symptomatic, especially in a population with high rates of hypertension," said lead study author Phillip Levy, MD, MPH, of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. "If we can detect incipient heart disease early, we have a better shot at treating it before it turns into a full-blown health emergency. Our study is also a strong reminder that emergency patients with chronic disease - in this case, hypertension - are generally a high-risk group."
Researchers studied 161patients with high blood pressure in a single emergency department, 93.8% of whom were African-American and 51.6% of whom were male. Just over half (57.8%) of the patients had health insurance. Most patients (93.8%) had a history of hypertension. Echocardiograms revealed sub-clinical hypertensive heart disease in 90.7% of them. The vast majority diagnosed with heart disease had diastolic dysfunction, or a heart with impaired ability to pump blood to the body, brain and lungs.
"Emergency physicians are uniquely positioned to lessen the overall impact of chronic high blood pressure in at-risk communities," said Dr. Levy. "Blood pressure readings are taken for every patient in the ER. By not just taking in new information but also acting on it, we can substantively contribute to much needed secondary disease prevention efforts."
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