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Crit Pathw Cardiol. 2007 Jun;6(2):67-71.

The management of hypertension in African Americans.

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  • 1Association of Black Cardiologists, Critical Pathways in Cardiology, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The prevalence of hypertension in blacks in the United States is among the highest in the world. Compared with whites, blacks develop hypertension at an earlier age, their average blood pressures are much higher and they experience worse disease severity. Consequently, blacks have a 1.3 times greater rate of nonfatal stroke, 1.8 times greater rate of fatal stroke, 1.5 times greater rate of heart disease death, 4.2 times greater rate of end-stage kidney disease, and a 50% higher frequency of heart failure; overall, mortality due to hypertension and its consequences is 4 to 5 times more likely in African Americans than in whites. The increased prevalence of hypertension and excessive target organ damage is due to a combination of genetic and, most likely, environmental factors. There are no clinical trial data at present to suggest that lower-than-usual BP targets should be set for high-risk demographic groups such as African Americans. The primary means of prevention and early treatment of hypertension in African Americans will be the appropriate use of lifestyle modification. The International Society of Hypertension in Blacks guidelines realize that most patients will require combination therapy, many of them first-line, to reach appropriate BP goals. Although certain classes and combinations of antihypertensive agents have been well-established to be effective, the choice of drugs for combination therapy in African American patients may be different. Within the African American group, the responsiveness to monotherapy with ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and beta blockers may be less than the responsiveness to diuretics and calcium channel blockers, but these differences are corrected when diuretics are added to the neurohormonal antagonists. Of note, African American patients with systolic BP >15 mm Hg or a diastolic BP >10 mm Hg above goal should be treated with first-line combination therapy.

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