February 7, 2006

Hypertension control poorer in blacks than whites

By Will Boggs, MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Better compliance with
treatment could improve racial differences in how well patients
keep high blood pressure under control, VA researchers report.

"Nonadherence to a hypertension treatment regimen is a
significant barrier to achieving hypertension treatment goals
and is quite prevalent," Dr. Hayden B. Bosworth from the Durham
Veterans Affairs Medical Center, North Carolina, told Reuters

Bosworth and colleagues studied 569 veterans -- 41 percent
black and 59 percent white -- in order to identify the social,
economic, and physical factors that may explain racial
differences in blood pressure control.

African-Americans were 70 percent more likely to have
inadequate blood pressure control compared with whites, the
investigators report in The American Journal of Medicine.

Also, African-Americans were 81 percent more likely to not
stick to their medication regimen.

After adjustment for more than 20 potential factors,
African-Americans were still 59 percent more likely than whites
to have poor blood pressure control, the team found.

Being patients in the VA medical system, blacks and whites
had comparable access to good medical care. "Our results
suggest that economic barriers and access to care are not the
only contributors to racial differences in blood pressure
control," the researchers conclude.

"Simply asking patients, 'Are you having problems with your
hypertension treatment regimen or can you tell me how you treat
your hypertension,' can provide an opportunity for physicians
to explore reasons for nonadherence, thereby improving
adherence and blood pressure control," Bosworth commented.

He added that his group is currently engaged in three
research projects designed to clarify and eliminate racial
disparities in blood pressure control.

SOURCE: American Journal of Medicine, January 2006.