Aorta More Rigid in African-Americans, May Explain Rates of Hypertension and Heart Disease

Medical Xpress, November 10, 2016

African-Americans have more rigidity of the aorta, the major artery supplying oxygen-rich blood to the body, than Caucasians and Hispanics, according to a study by UT Southwestern Medical Center cardiologists.

The finding is important because African-Americans are the group at greatest risk of high blood pressure and organ damage caused by high blood pressure, and aortic rigidity is associated with high blood pressure.

The study examined data from some 2,500 participants in the Dallas Heart Study, a multi-ethnic population-based cohort. {snip}

“Our demonstration of ethnic differences in arterial stiffness is an important step in understanding the mechanisms that mediate ethnic differences in cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin, Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and co-senior author of the study, which appears online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Hispanics in the study had an intermediate level of aortic stiffness, greater than Caucasians, but less than that of African-Americans.

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Other possible mechanisms underlying the increased levels of aortic stiffness in African-Americans and Hispanics include greater sodium intake among African-Americans and Hispanics, lower intake of potassium, and genetic differences in collagen content. Collagen is a protein fiber that is a key component of connective tissue such as bone and artery walls.

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