THE PROBLEM OF hypertension in this country's black population is well known, well documented, and well publicized. Hypertension afflicts 28% of adult blacks, compared with 17% of adult whites. Most researchers say that blacks tend to develop high blood pressure at a younger age than whites, and severe hypertension is five times more common in blacks (JAMA 1977; 237:2385-2391).
The morbidity and mortality of hypertension in blacks is more than distressing. This country has a "stroke belt," running roughly from the eastern border of Texas to the Georgia coast, south of the Mason-Dixon line, where overall stroke mortality is higher than anywhere else. The black population accounts almost totally for the excess.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Md, blacks have a stroke mortality rate 66% higher than whites. Black people also have abnormally high rates of ischemic heart disease and renal disease. That inordinate morbidity