9 Out Of 10 Blacks With High Blood Pressure Will Suffer Early Heart Disease

A doctor examining a patient's heart with a stethoscope
High blood pressure is strongly associated with heart disease in black Americans, new research shows.

Researchers looked at 161 people who came to a single emergency department. More than 93 percent of the patients were black.

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None of the people in the study had symptoms or a history of heart disease, but 94 percent had a history of high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, what was disturbing was the fact that echocardiograms (an image of the heart) revealed that nearly 91 percent of the patients had the beginnings of heart disease despite the lack of symptoms. Most of the patients with heart disease had diastolic dysfunction, which means that the heart had a reduced ability to pump blood to the body, brain and lungs.

“These results present a tremendous opportunity to screen for heart disease before it becomes symptomatic, especially in a population with high rates of hypertension,” lead author Dr. Phillip Levy, of the department of emergency medicine at Wayne State University in Detroit, said in a journal news release.

“If we can detect incipient [early] heart disease early, we have a better shot at treating it before it turns into a full-blown health emergency. Our study is also a strong reminder that emergency patients with chronic disease — in this case, hypertension — are generally a high-risk group,” he noted.

Levy urged emergency physicians to address high blood pressure with patients. “Blood pressure readings are taken for every patient in the [emergency department]. By not just taking in new information but also acting on it, we can substantively contribute to . . . disease prevention efforts,” he said.

The study was published online on May 31 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Is Sex Safe After A Heart Attack?

A sexy couple cuddling in front of a bed

Heart attack survivors are more likely to resume their sex lives if doctors reassure them it’s safe, a new study shows.

University of Chicago Medicine researchers surveyed nearly 1,900 heart attack survivors for the study. Among patients who were sexually active before their heart attack, those who received counseling about sex before they were discharged from the hospital were 1.5 times more likely to carry on with their sex lives.

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Patients who did not receive medical advice about their sex lives often either unnecessarily delayed their return to sexual activity or refrained from sex altogether.

The study also found that less than half of male patients and about one-third of female patients recalled receiving pre-discharge instructions on when to return safely to sexual activity.

One year after being discharged from the hospital, only 41 percent of men and 24 percent of women said they’d had a discussion with their doctor about sex since their heart attack.

The findings, published in the May 10 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, show the need for doctors to regard sex as an important part of overall function, even after a life-threatening event such as a heart attack, said study author Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“Doctors need to understand the significant role they play in helping [heart attack] patients avoid needless fear and worry about the risk of relapse or even death with return to sexual activity,” Lindau said in a university news release.

“Receiving instructions prior to hospital discharge about resuming sex was a major predictor of whether patients resumed sexual activity in the year following [heart attack],” Lindau said. “For women, this was the only significant predictor. The discharging cardiologist has detailed knowledge of the patient’s condition, has provided lifesaving care and is best positioned to advise on the safety of engaging in physical activity, including sex.”

If heart attack survivors don’t receive professional advice, they have to make their own, often incorrect, assumptions about the risks associated with sexual activity, Lindau said.