Creighton Hypertension Study Focuses on African-Americans
When R&B singer Gerald Levert died last month of a heart attack, the 40-year-old’s death rocked the music world. Baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett created a similar shock wave when he died of a stroke in March at the age of 45.
In addition to their fame, Levert and Puckett shared something else in common. Both were African-American, which put them at much greater risk than the general population of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.
The Cardiac Center of Creighton University Medical Center has launched a two-year study with hopes of helping to level the playing field for African-Americans. The study will look at whether counseling, education and medication are more effective at managing high blood pressure than just medication alone. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major contributing factor for cardiovascular disease.
Creighton wants to enroll 300 African-Americans in the study over two years.
“The problem is that many African-Americans don’t know they have high blood pressure, which also puts them at risk of such serious complications as stroke, heart attack, kidney problems and eye problems,” said Syed Mohiuddin, M.D., chief of the Creighton Division of Cardiology and director of The Cardiac Center.
While medication can help control hypertension, it is not the entire solution. There are many lifestyle choices – no smoking, exercise and good dietary habits – that are important as well.
The Creighton study will divide participants into two groups. One group will get standard care, including medication and frequent blood pressure checks. The others also will receive counseling from a dietitian, a health educator and a social worker and participate in a 10-week Heart Health Living class focusing on healthy eating and exercise.
“In addition to heredity, a lack of access to health information and medical care may also contribute to the fact that African-Americans develop high blood pressure and at an earlier age. And, their blood pressure is much higher than Caucasians,” Mohiuddin said. “We hope to determine whether we can bridge that gap.”
Persons interested in participating in the study should contact the Creighton Community Health Center, 5420 Northwest Radial Highway, (402) 558-1574, for more information.
Creighton University is funding the study. Participants must be African-American, between the ages of 25 and 80 and have uncontrolled high blood pressure (greater than 140/90 mm Hg or, if you have diabetes or heart disease, greater than 130/80). All participants will receive study visits every three months, an electrocardiogram, lab work for the study, and high blood pressure medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration.