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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Blacks Have More Hypertension Eye Damage

Retinopathy Twice as Likely Among African Americans
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March 24, 2003 -- Eye damage caused by high blood pressure -- hypertension -- is twice as likely among African Americans, a new study shows.

The study appears in this month's issue of the journal Hypertension.

In it, authors detail their investigation of retinopathy -- damage to small blood vessels in the retina, which causes vision loss and is one of the most easily detectable signs of damage caused by high blood pressure.

In their study, researchers examined cases of retinopathy in 1,860 African Americans and 7,874 whites between ages 49 and 73. They also examined the effects of other factors that might contribute to the develop of the eye disease caused by high blood pressure. None had diabetes, which also causes retinopathy.

Among African Americans, there were twice as many cases of retinopathy caused by high blood pressure, reports lead researcher Tien Yin Wong, PhD, with the Singapore National Eye Center and National University of Singapore.

They also found that retinopathy was higher among blacks than whites regardless of whether they had high blood pressure. Even after adjusting for other risk factors, blacks still showed a higher rate of eye disease when compared with whites.

Other studies have found that African-Americans are at higher risk of high blood pressure, he writes. More public health programs should be aimed at tackling this "disturbing" problem, Wong writes.

SOURCE: Hypertension, May 2003.

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