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Black-White Blood Pressure Rates Similar In Britain; Reasons Unclear

March 7, 1987

ATLANTA (AP) _ A study of black and white factory workers in England found that they have similar rates of high blood pressure, a researcher says, unlike the case in the United States, where the black rate is dramatically higher.

Speaking at a conference on hypertension in blacks Friday, Dr. J. Kenneth Cruickshank, senior registrar at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, England, told fellow researchers that the reasons for the difference between the United States and England is not clear.

In the United States, hypertension rates are twice as high for blacks as for whites. It is estimated that as many as 40 percent of black Americans suffer from high blood pressure which, if not controlled, can lead to stroke, kidney disease and heart disease.

Cruickshank pointed out that his study of workers in Birmingham, England, surveyed only 603 whites and 274 blacks and more research is needed.

But thus far, he said, he has found that mean blood pressure readings are similar. ″On the average,″ he said, ″blood pressure is no different in blacks in Britain than in whites.″

One significant point, he said, is that the health and socioeconomic status of the blacks in his studies may be generally higher than that of their counterparts in the United States.

Many of the blacks in the Birmingham study were first-generation immigrants to Britain from the West Indies and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

″But black Americans have been subject to the whole problem of discrimination for a very long time,″ he said.

″I’m not undermining what ... others have told you,″ Cruickshank told researchers at the International Interdisciplinary Conference on Hypertension in Blacks, which concludes today. ″There’s a tremendous effort to get at black hypertension, and what I’m saying is that maybe once we’ve gotten there, things will be pretty even.″

A top researcher from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute said there may be no hypertension differences between blacks and whites, but merely differences between blacks in the South, called ″the stroke belt,″ and other parts of the United States.

Dr. Edward Roccella, coordinator of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, cited 1980 statistics showing that whites in the South and whites in the rest of the United States have similar rates of high blood pressure.

But Southern blacks have hypertension rates more than double their counterparts elsewhere - 8.7 percent compared to 3.4 percent for men, and 3.2 percent compared to 1.2 percent for women.

″These (hypertensive Southern black men) are men who are just walking around looking for a stroke,″ he said.

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