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Blood Vessel Damage in Eyes More Common in Blacks

May explain higher risk of stroke among black Americans, researchers say

MONDAY, March 24, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Hypertensive retinopathy, a form of blood vessel damage in the eye, is almost twice as common in black Americans as it is in whites.

So says a study in the March 24 online issue of Hypertension.

The study of 1,860 blacks and 7,874 whites found the rate of hypertensive retinopathy in blacks was 7.7 percent, compared to 4.1 percent in whites. The findings may have significant public health implications.

"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," study author Dr. Tien Yin Wong, of the National University of Singapore, says in a news release.

The higher frequency of hypertensive retinopathy in black Americans may explain why they have a greater risk of stroke. Retinopathy is an important indication that a person's high blood pressure has become severe and is causing organ damage.

It's well-documented that black Americans have a greater incidence of high blood pressure than whites. Blacks are more than twice as likely to develop complications related to high blood pressure. These include heart problems, kidney disease and stroke.

Blacks also have less access to drugs that treat hypertension and are more likely than whites to die from the disease.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about hypertensive retinopathy.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, March 24, 2003
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