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Study Looks at Hispanic Hypertension 'Race Gap'

Black Hispanics more likely to have high blood pressure than white Hispanics

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 25, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Black Hispanics in the United States have higher rates of hypertension that white Hispanics, a new study finds.

The Columbia University research is the first to examine hypertension in different Hispanic racial subgroups.

The study included information from more than 12,000 Hispanic adults. Overall, U.S. Hispanics have lower rates of high blood pressure than non-Hispanics (16.8 percent vs. 24.7 percent). However, the "protective effect" of being Hispanic does not cover black Hispanics, noted researcher Luisa N. Borrell, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia's School of Public Health in New York City.

"The idealized Hispanic health advantage disappears when race is accounted for. We are ignoring the real health profile of Hispanics," Borrell said in a prepared statement.

Overall, blacks, regardless of their ethnicity, had the highest rates of high blood pressure, the study noted.

This research is a first step toward a better understanding of the link between race and health, according to David R. Williams, a professor at the Institute of Social Research, University of Michigan.

"I think we know that there is nothing inherently about being black that leads to higher rates of hypertension," Williams said in a prepared statement. "We can't stop at the descriptive level. What is it about being black that makes the difference?"

"This kind of comparison could help tease out the effect of race as a marker for inequality in opportunities and, further, as a cause for existing health disparities," Borrell said.

The findings appear in the February issue of Ethnicity & Disease.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about high blood pressure.

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, Jan. 25, 2006
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