A new study finds the lives of nearly 8,000 black Americans could be saved each year if doctors could figure out a way to bring their average blood pressure down to the average level of whites.
The gap between the races in controlling blood pressure is well-known, but scientists say the resulting loss of life comes as surprise. The study's lead author says he believes action can be taken to close the gap, but a second article in the same journal found that racial differences persist in England, despite a national health system that provides equal access to care.
The reasons for the racial difference are thought to include poverty levels and cultural habits. Both can prevent people from exercising, eating healthy foods and getting in to see a good doctor.
High blood pressure increases a person's chances for heart disease, stroke and other problems, but is easily checked and usually can be controlled through exercise, diet and inexpensive pills.
The study was released in the Annals of Family Medicine.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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