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Published on January 04, 2017

Modest Increase in Blood Pressure Increases Mortality for African-Americans

Cone Health doctor says her study shows the need for patients to work closely with their doctor to keep high blood pressure under control.

More than 40 percent of African-Americans have high blood pressure. Researchers find that even a modest increase in blood pressure can

Dr. Tiffany Randolph

significantly increase the chance of death – especially among those younger than age 60. Tiffany Randolph, MD, a cardiologist with Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare and lead author of the study, says it is important that African-Americans keep their blood pressure on the low side of recommendations.

“Our study highlights the importance of blood pressure control at all ages. We found a large increase in the relative risk of death in younger adults, which shows that adequate blood pressure control in this group is extremely important,” says Randolph. “As I see patients, I aim for lower blood pressure targets in all age groups unless there are medical reasons preventing that.” The study is in the December issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers looked at the medical records of 5,280 African-Americans in Jackson, Mississippi, who provided data through the Jackson Heart Study. Randolph and others found that every 10 millimeters of mercury increase in systolic blood pressure raised the death rate by 12 percent. It jumped 26 percent among those under the age of 60.

Recent blood pressure guidelines allow for slightly higher patient blood pressures in people 60 and older. Randolph says that may not be a good idea for African-Americans. “African-Americans, and all patients, should work with their providers to make sure that all the available evidence is used when determining their goal blood pressure,” says Randolph. “I am really making a point to remind my patients to keep their blood pressure under control. A small change can have life-changing impacts.”

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