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September 23, 1996

Hypertension and Subclinical Carotid Artery Atherosclerosis in Blacks and Whites: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study

Author Affiliations

for the ARIC Investigators

From the Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Dr Arnett); the Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Drs Tyroler and Heiss); the Division of Public Health Sciences, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC (Drs Burke and Howard); and the Department of Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson (Dr Hutchinson).

Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(17):1983-1989. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440160095012

Objective:  To describe the distribution of hypertension and its association with subclinical atherosclerosis in blacks and whites.

Design:  Population-based survey of 15 587 middle-aged adults from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Ultrasound-measured carotid artery intima media thickness (IMT) was used to estimate atherosclerosis. Hypertension was defined by the revised fifth Joint National Committee categories. Continuous systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements also were evaluated.

Results:  Among participants not reporting use of anti-hypertensive medication, 43% to 52% of black and 68% to 78% of white participants had optimal to high-normal blood pressure across the 4 study centers; 11% to 22% of black and 6% to 9% of white participants had stage I or higher hypertension. Use of antihypertensive medications was reported by 34% to 45% of blacks and 20% of whites; 11% to 17% of blacks had stage I or higher hypertension compared with 4% to 7% of whites when treated. Higher hypertension categories were associated with thicker intima medias in all ethnic and gender groups, in participants who did and did not use medications. In participants who did not use medications, multiple linear regression models adjusted for diastolic blood pressure and other risk factors found that systolic blood pressure was positively associated with IMT except in black men; diastolic blood pressure was not related to IMT in blacks and had a negative relation with IMT in white men and a J-shaped relation with IMT in white women. Results of similar direction and magnitude were found in participants who used medications.

Conclusions:  Hypertension was higher in blacks than whites and was associated with subclinical atherosclerosis. The association of atherosclerosis with hypertension is accounted for predominantly by systolic blood pressure. The intriguing negative association of diastolic blood pressure and atherosclerosis implies that pulse pressure may be an important correlate of atherosclerosis.Arch Intern Med. 1996;156:1983-1989

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