Of those found to have hidden heart disease, the majority were diagnosed with diastolic dysfunction, defined as the heart's inability to adequately pump blood. Levy said the echocardiograms found the presence of subclinical hypertensive heart disease "ubiquitous."
He noted that hypertension is commonplace in the United States, and affects more than 76 million adults. The prevalence of the condition is higher in African-Americans, who are at "tremendous risk" for pressure-related consequences of hypertension, especially the premature onset of damage to and impairment of heart function.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 228.3 in every 100,000 Michigan residents 35 and older died of hypertension-related causes in 2009. In African-Americans, the rate was 381.9 deaths for every 100,000, and in whites it was 211. All Michigan rates were higher than national statistics. In rates of hypertension hospitalizations of Michigan residents 65 and older who are Medicare beneficiaries, African-Americans had higher rates (14 hospitalizations per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries) than whites (3.6 per 1,000). Again, both rates were higher than national numbers.
Since subclinical heart disease is unlikely to be detected in such hypertensive patients until the damage manifests in visibly recognized symptoms, the early identification of the condition "has emerged as an important aspect of secondary cardiovascular disease prevention," Levy said.
Emergency room physicians may underestimate the prevalence of hidden hypertensive heart disease in inner-city African-Americans, who are considered an especially high-risk group and who rely on emergency rooms for treatment because of lack of access to primary care physicians.
"Emergency physicians are uniquely positioned to lessen the overall impact of chronic high blood pressure in at-risk commu
|Contact: Julie O'Connor|
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research