Could a simple little blood test make a big important difference in helping to reduce the disproportionately high risk of high blood pressure in African Americans? The findings of a recent study published online in the journal Hypertension suggest that there is a connection between high uric acid levels in the blood and increased risk of HBP in black men and women. Although the study’s authors stress that further research is needed, this discovery could eventually mean that testing black patients’ uric acid levels could predict their risk of developing HBP—and even more encouraging, that use of medications to decrease uric acid levels could improve outcomes for blacks who are already hypertensive.
The study, conducted by researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., tracked an ethnically diverse sample of 9,100 non-hypertensive Americans aged 45 to 64 over several years to see how many developed HBP. They found that participants with uric acid levels in the highest quartile had about a 15% greater risk of becoming hypertensive—and that the risk was even higher for African Americans. Black men with the highest uric acid blood levels were twice as likely to develop HBP than black men with the lowest levels. For black women in the highest quartile, the risk was 30% higher.
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