/publications/issue/2012/August2012/Hidden-Hypertensive-Heart-Disease-Ubiquitous-in-African-Americans

Hidden Hypertensive Heart Disease Ubiquitous in African Americans

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A recent study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine found that an overwhelming majority—nearly 91%— of African American patients with high blood pressure also tested positive for hypertensive heart disease. Although nearly 94% of the patients studied were aware they had high blood pressure, none of the participants knew their hypertension was negatively affecting their hearts, as they were asymptomatic.

Patients were enrolled in the study following emergency department visits, none of which were related to heart disease symptoms. They underwent echocardiograms, and the majority of patients were subsequently diagnosed with diastolic dysfunction. The results of the study were particularly worrisome because African Americans are known to progress from hidden to symptomatic stages of leftventricular dysfunction more rapidly than other population groups, the study authors noted.

“These results present a tremendous opportunity to screen for heart disease before it becomes symptomatic, especially in a population with high rates of hypertension,” said lead author Philip Levy, MD, MPH, associate professor of emergency medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine. “If we can detect incipient heart disease early, we have a better shot at treating it before it turns into a fullblown health emergency.”

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