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International Team Explores Hypertension

Half of all adults in some South African Black populations have hypertension. By contrast, hypertension affects about 32 percent of African Americans -- and 24 percent of all Americans.

To find ways of reducing high blood pressure's toll, leading South African and American scientists gathered at NIH for the second joint workshop on hypertension in Blacks. Funded by NHLBI, the 2-day workshop was held recently at Lawton Chiles International House. The scientists shared findings and discussed methodologies to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure in both countries. Also attending was U.S. assistant surgeon general Dr. Roscoe Moore, who expressed his support for future collaboration between U.S. and South African researchers.

Dr. Edward Roccella, coordinator of NHLBI's National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP), said, "Hypertension may be one of the most pervasive chronic diseases in developing countries." His presentation focused on some of the strategies used by NHBPEP to increase awareness among clinicians, patients and the public of the threat posed by hypertension.

Other topics covered at the workshop include: the epidemiology of hypertension in South Africa; the primary prevention of hypertension; the management of hypertension when it occurs with other conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart failure; hypertension in pregnancy; and the endocrinology of the vascular system.

The scientists are planning joint studies such as comparing salt responsiveness among African American and South African Black hypertensives, and investigating the possible relationship of body composition to cardiovascular disease risk factors. Added activities will include implementing community organization and educational components of NHBPEP within South African populations.

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