New findings suggest the existence of racial differences between blacks and whites in the impact of elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) on stroke risk.

In a study of 27,748 black and white subjects, George Howard, DrPH, of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and collaborators found that increasing SBP was associated with significantly larger increases in stroke risk in blacks compared with whites.

Over 4.5 years of follow-up, 715 incident strokes occurred. A 10-mm increment in SBP was associated with a 24% increased stroke risk for blacks compared with an 8% increase among whites, according to an online report in Archives of Internal Medicine. Among subjects aged 45-64 years, stroke risk among individuals with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension was 38% and 2.38 times greater for blacks than whites, respectively.

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The researchers noted that among individuals aged 45-65 years, incident stroke is two to three times more common in blacks than whites, a difference not explained by traditional stroke risk factors.

Study subjects were participants in the REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study. Subjects were recruited from 2003 to 2007 and follow-up through 2011.