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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

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Blood Pressure Drugs Don't Discriminate

Blacks, Whites Respond Similarly to Blood Pressure Drugs
WebMD Health News

Feb. 26, 2004 -- Individual differences are much more important than racial ones when it comes to prescribing drugs to treat high blood pressure, according to a new study.

On average, researchers say blacks and whites may differ slightly in their response to blood pressure lowering drugs, but they have much more in common than previously thought.

A study published in the March issue of Hypertension shows that the majority of blacks and whites have similar responses to the most frequently used blood pressure lowering medications, including diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and ACE inhibitors.

Racial Differences in Blood Pressure Treatment

Researchers say that previous studies have emphasized racial differences in blood pressure treatment. But those findings were based on average rather than individual differences.

In this study, researcher Ashwini Sehgal, MD, of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, examined the results of all clinical trials from the last 20 years that provided information on racial differences in blood pressure treatment response.

The pooled data included information on the use of common blood pressure lowering drugs in 9,307 whites and 2,902 blacks.

The study showed that 81%-95% of blacks and whites experienced similar changes in blood pressure in response to each of the four groups of commonly used medications.

"This meta-analysis found that race has little value in predicting antihypertensive drug response, because whites and blacks overlap greatly in their response to all categories of drugs," writes Sehgal.

In contrast, individual racial differences in drug responses were much greater. For example, the average drug-related differences in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a blood pressure reading) change between blacks and whites ranged from 0.6 to 3.0. But the differences within each race ranged from 5.0 to 10.1.

Sehgal says the study "suggests that clinical decisions to use a specific drug should be based not on race, but rather on other considerations such as efficacy in individual patients, compelling indications, and cost."

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