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Black Patients With MS More Likely to Deal With Hypertension

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Black patients with multiple sclerosis are more likely to develop hypertension, according to a new study. 

In a recently published study that’s set to make the newest issue of Science Direct, a group of researchers from Cleveland Clinic Mellen Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine analyzed data from the Multiple Sclerosis Partners Advancing Technology and Health Solutions registry. 

Looking at data from May 2015 to November 2020, the researchers found that, out of the 10,673 MS patients, Black Americans were more likely to deal with uncontrolled hypertension. According to the study, Black Americans, specifically, had an increased 31% chance of developing the condition as they recorded higher blood pressure rates. 

Overall, when it came to diastolic blood pressure, the blood pressure when the heart is at rest, Black Americans had an average of an increased 1.28 mmHg compared to white Americans. As for the mean systolic blood pressure, the blood pressure when the heart beats, Black Americans recorded an increased average of 1.84 mmHg when compared to white Americans.

The study also found that Black Americans with MS were also more likely to be on anti-hypertensive treatments for uncontrolled hypertension. According to their analysis, compared to white Americans, Black Americans had an increased 68% chance of being on the medications, taking an average of 0.61 more of the anti-hypertensive treatments.

“MS patients should be encouraged to see their primary care physician for more than a yearly physical, even in the absence of other underlying health conditions,” said the researchers in their study. “This is especially true for Black Americans, in whom hypertension may be less well controlled, which could contribute to a more severe course of MS.”

Throughout the years, MS has been an immune disease mostly associated with white people of European descent, but, according to the latest information from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the incidence rate for Black Americans with MS has increased to almost the rate of white Americans. 

The nonprofit organization also reports that, as Black Americans are more likely to develop and receive a diagnosis for MS at an older age, they are more likely to deal with harsher effects as a result of the disease and its rapid progression. 

In addition to trouble with walking, Black Americans with MS tend to have more difficulty with balance, coordination, vision and cognition. They’re also more likely to relapse and deal with the worsening of their current symptoms or experience new symptoms with slower recoveries, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 

“Whether uncontrolled hypertension more significantly impacts MS prognosis in Black versus White Americans is an important research question that warrants further investigation,” said the researchers in their study. “Regardless, management of hypertension and other comorbidities are likely one piece in a complex puzzle resulting in different disease trajectories for White and Black Americans with MS.” 

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