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Blood Pressure Risks Are Detailed

Times Staff Writer

South Los Angeles, Compton and the Antelope Valley are among the California cities with the highest rates of residents 45 and older who suffer from high blood pressure and hypertension, according to a statewide report released Monday.

Santa Monica, Culver City and Beverly Hills have some of the state’s lowest rates for these conditions, according to the report by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Statewide, about 38% of residents in the same age group reported being diagnosed with high blood pressure. About one quarter of Californians with hypertension, or about 1 million people, live in Los Angeles County.

“This is the first time we have examined hypertension rates at the sub-county level, and the findings are helpful in understanding the burden of the condition in local communities across California,” Carolyn A. Mendez-Luck, a UCLA senior researcher, said in a statement.

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The report, funded by a grant from the California Endowment, found that blood pressure rates in large swaths of Los Angeles were at or above the statewide average.

In communities such as Compton, Lynwood and Paramount, 48% of people age 45 and older have been diagnosed with high blood pressure at some point in their lives.

In contrast, about 30% of adults in coastal communities stretching from Malibu to Westchester reported having high blood pressure. Other counties with high rates of hypertension include Merced, with 46%, and Tulare, with 45%.

The different rates among communities and counties can in part be explained by demographics. Areas with large concentrations of African Americans and older residents, two groups in which high blood pressure is more common, tend to have more people with high blood pressure, Mendez-Luck said.

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She said the report, based on data from the 2001 California Health Interview Survey, could help policymakers identify which communities face the biggest challenge in combating high blood pressure. If untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke -- the first- and third-leading causes of death in California.

The areas with higher rates of hypertension and high blood pressure can be targeted for education, screening and treatment, as well as improved access to recreation and healthy food, Mendez-Luck said.


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