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Heart Failure Health Center

Enlarged Hearts More Common in Blacks

Condition Linked Mostly to High Blood Pressure
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June 6, 2005 -- Enlarged hearts are two to three times more common in black Americans than in white Americans, a new study shows. Studies of health disparities often show that black Americans suffer more heart disease than white Americans. But these studies often don't use

sophisticated tests, and often don't adequately account for factors, such as body mass, that affect heart health.

Mark H. Drazner, MD, and colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, have been performing detailed tests on 1,335 black and 858 white Texans aged 30 to 67.

Their latest finding: Even after controlling for body mass, blacks are two to three times more likely to have enlarged heart muscles, what doctors' call increased left ventricular mass. With this condition, the muscle fibers of the chambers of the heart thicken and are less able to relax in between heart beats. It means the heart works harder yet accomplishes less pumping. The good news is that this finding seems completely related to high blood pressure. It's possible, Drazner and colleagues suggest, that

aggressive blood pressure control may be particularly helpful for blacks. They call for clinical trials to see whether this might lower black Americans' risk of enlarged hearts.

The findings appear in the July issue of Hypertension.

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