New indicators for predicting hypertension in African-American males

New Orleans, LA -- The threat of hypertension is real and deadly. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 23 percent of Americans ages 20-74 suffer from hypertension (more commonly known as high blood pressure). Some 15,000 die each year from this disorder; more than 32 million visit the doctor's office each year for treatment, but the disease affects African Americans disproportionately.

African-American males are at higher risk for hypertension than other demographic groups. An estimated 35 percent of African American men have this disorder, leading to staggering financial costs related to medical and disability expenses.

For years, the scientific community has stated that a variety of environmental, behavioral and biological factors have been proposed to account for the racial differences in the prevalence and severity of hypertension. A new research study suggests that arterial compliance may be an indicator of potential hypertension in African American males.

One form of the disease, arterial hypertension (the elevation of systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure, either primary or secondary), is associated with structural and functional changes in the cardiovascular system. These changes modify the flow of blood through large arteries as well as in small resistance arteries. Arterial compliance is defined as how much the artery can be stretched expressed as a change in volume per unit change in pressure. In animal models as well as in human, HT causes stiffer vessels i.e., a loss in compliance. The loss of compliance is considered a predictor of cardiovascular illness and the cause of arterial disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and atherosclerosis). Recognizing changes in arterial compliance may precede hypertension and help identify individuals at risk.

As with arterial wall compliance, there are conditions in which baroreflex sensitivity (sensory nerve mechanisms designed t

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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