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New Study Suggests Black People with MS are More Likely to Have Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure than People with MS of Other Races

July 1, 2022

A newly published study suggests that Black people who have multiple sclerosis are more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure, even in some taking medication for it, than White people with MS or other racial groups. The study  examined data from more than 10,000 people with MS who had at least two blood pressure readings recorded. The research team comprised researchers from the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
  • Background: Improving access to quality MS care across the cultural and socioeconomic spectrum means understanding how each group experiences and perceives the disease and identifying factors that limit access to care.
  • There is growing recognition that “comorbidities” – having two or more medical conditions at once – may complicate the diagnosis of MS and also increase disease progression, as well as detract from an individual’s general health and quality of life. A previous study looked at high blood pressure in Hispanic/Latinx people with MS. Understanding potential disparities in detecting and treating comorbidities in all people with MS is critical to minimizing their effects on the course of MS in all people who have this disease.
  • This study: Researchers examined data on 10,673 people with MS, including 1,442 Black people, who were enrolled in a multicenter registry of people with MS (MS PATHS). Among this group, Black people were 31% more likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure, meaning they had two or more high blood pressure readings, whether or not they were taking medication to lower blood pressure.
  • Black people with MS were also more likely than white people with MS to be taking medication to lower blood pressure. Among both Black and white people, those with diabetes or high cholesterol, and older adults, were more likely to be taking medication to lower blood pressure.
  • The authors note that further research is required to determine what is driving these disparities, and if uncontrolled hypertension may contribute to more severe MS. They also suggest this finding should encourage people with MS to visit their primary care physicians more than once a year so that underlying health conditions like hypertension and other comorbidities can be detected and treated.
Learn more about… “Racial disparities in hypertension management among multiple sclerosis patients” by Devon  Conway, Farren Briggs, Ellen Mowry, Kathryn Fitzgerald, and Carrie Hersh, is published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders (2022 Jun 15;64:103972).

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.

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