Black participants had average systolic blood pressure (the upper number in a reading) of 140, compared to 134 among whites. Blacks had diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) of 74, compared to 65 in whites. Both are significant differences, Sanossian noted.
Previous research shows that a systolic decrease of 10 translates into a 31 percent reduction in stroke rate.
"The average person out there has to have their blood pressure controlled, but if you've had a stroke or coronary artery disease you have to have your blood pressure controlled in a much stricter way," Sanossian stressed.
Hispanics and whites had similar systolic blood pressure (133 compared to 134), though Hispanics had higher diastolic blood pressure (72 compared to 65), the researchers noted.
Yet, only 54 percent of Hispanics who'd had a stroke or who had coronary artery disease were taking drugs for hypertension, compared to 77 percent of whites and 76 percent of blacks.
Among stroke survivors, 52 percent of Hispanics were prescribed blood pressure medications compared to 74 percent of whites and 87 percent of blacks. Among Hispanics with coronary artery disease, about 59 percent were taking hypertension medications compared to 80 percent of whites and 74 percent of blacks.
Making sure that minorities get the proper blood pressure medication to get blood pressure under control is of critical importance, said Dr. Rhian M. Touyz, a professor of medicine at University of Ottawa.
Hypertension is more common in blacks than whites and tends to be more difficult to get under control, Touyz said. Blacks tend to suffer more severe complications from high blood pressure at a younger age than other racial groups. Blacks are also more sensitive to the effects of salt in the diet, which can raise blood pressure.
"It's well known that African Americans tend to develop much worse
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