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It has long been known that African Americans have a greater incidence of high blood pressure, compared with whites. Now a new study in the March 24, 2003, online issue of Hypertension reports that blacks are almost twice as likely to develop hypertensive retinopathy, a form of blood vessel damage in the eye.
The study included 1860 blacks and 7874 whites and found the rate of hypertensive retinopathy in blacks to be 7.7%, compared with 4.1% in whites. It is a significant finding because "Blood vessel damage in the eye is linked with similar changes in the brain and has been shown to be associated with a higher risk of stroke and death, independent of known risk factors," according to the study authors.