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An international comparative study of blood pressure in populations of European vs. African descent

Richard S Cooper1*, Katharina Wolf-Maier1, Amy Luke1, Adebowale Adeyemo2, José R Banegas3, Terrence Forrester4, Simona Giampaoli5, Michel Joffres6, Mika Kastarinen7, Paola Primatesta8, Birgitta Stegmayr9 and Michael Thamm10

Author affiliations

1 Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL, USA

2 Department of Pediatrics, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria

3 Departamento de Medicina Preventiva y Salud Pública, Facultad de Medicina. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

4 Tropical Medicine Research Institute, University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica

5 Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Laboratorio di Epidemiologia e Biostatistica, Rome, Italy

6 Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

7 Department of Public Health and General Practice, University of Kuopio, Finland

8 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Medical School, London, UK

9 Department of Medicine, University Hospital, Umeå, Sweden

10 Robert-Koch Institut, Berlin, Germany

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Citation and License

BMC Medicine 2005, 3:2  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-3-2

Published: 5 January 2005



The consistent finding of higher prevalence of hypertension in US blacks compared to whites has led to speculation that African-origin populations are particularly susceptible to this condition. Large surveys now provide new information on this issue.


Using a standardized analysis strategy we examined prevalence estimates for 8 white and 3 black populations (N = 85,000 participants).


The range in hypertension prevalence was from 27 to 55% for whites and 14 to 44% for blacks.


These data demonstrate that not only is there a wide variation in hypertension prevalence among both racial groups, the rates among blacks are not unusually high when viewed internationally. These data suggest that the impact of environmental factors among both populations may have been under-appreciated.