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1.  Physical Activity and the Prevention of Hypertension 
Current hypertension reports  2013;15(6):659-668.
As the worldwide prevalence of hypertension continues to increase, the primary prevention of hypertension has become an important global public health initiative. Physical activity is commonly recommended as an important lifestyle modification that may aid in the prevention of hypertension. Recent epidemiologic evidence has demonstrated a consistent, temporal, and dose-dependent relationship between physical activity and the development of hypertension. Experimental evidence from interventional studies have further confirmed a relationship between physical activity and hypertension as the favorable effects of exercise on blood pressure reduction have been well characterized in recent years. Despite the available evidence strongly supporting a role for physical activity in the prevention of hypertension, many unanswered questions regarding the protective benefits of physical activity in high-risk individuals, the factors that may moderate the relationship between physical activity and hypertension, and the optimal prescription for hypertension prevention remain. We review the most recent evidence for the role of physical activity in the prevention of hypertension and discuss recent studies that have sought to address these unanswered questions.
PMCID: PMC3901083  PMID: 24052212
Physical activity; Exercise; Hypertension; Prevention; Blood pressure; Resistance training; Endurance training
2.  Increased Nitric Oxide and Attenuated Diastolic Blood Pressure Variability in African Americans with Mildly Impaired Renal Function 
We investigated the relationship between renal function, blood pressure variability (BPV), and nitric oxide (NO) in a group of African Americans with normal or mildly impaired renal function. 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring was performed, NO measured, and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) calculated in 38 African Americans. Participants were categorized as having normal (GFR > 90 mL/min per 1.73 m2) or mildly impaired (GFR 60–89 mL/min per 1.73 m2) renal function. Diastolic BPV was significantly lower in the mildly impaired renal function group. Regression analyses revealed a significant positive association between GFR and diastolic BPV for the entire study group. Plasma NO levels were significantly higher in the mildly impaired renal function group and negatively correlated with diastolic BPV. In conclusion, diastolic BPV was reduced in African Americans with mildly impaired renal function, which may be the result of increased NO production. These results conflict with previous findings in diseased and nonblack populations and could provide rationale for studying BPV early in the disease state when BP-buffering mechanisms are still preserved.
PMCID: PMC3025367  PMID: 21274440
Journal of human hypertension  2013;27(11):671-677.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the association of visit-to-visit and 24-h BP variability with markers of endothelial injury and vascular function. We recruited 72 African Americans who were non-diabetic, non-smoking, and free of cardiovascular and renal disease. Office BP was measured at three visits and 24-h ambulatory BP monitoring was conducted to measure visit-to-visit and 24-h BP variability, respectively. The 5-min time-course of brachial artery flow-mediated dilation and nitroglycerin-mediated dilation were assessed as measures of endothelial and smooth muscle function. Fasted blood samples were analyzed for circulating endothelial microparticles. Significantly lower CD31+CD42− endothelial microparticles were found in participants with high visit-to-visit SBP variability or high 24-h DBP variability. Participants with high visit-to-visit DBP variability had significantly lower flow-mediated dilation and higher nitroglycerin-mediated dilation at multiple time-points. When analyzed as continuous variables, 24-h mean arterial pressure variability was inversely associated with CD62+ endothelial microparticles; visit-to-visit DBP variability was inversely associated with flow-mediated dilation normalized by smooth muscle function and was positively associated with nitroglycerin-mediated dilation; and 24-h DBP variability was positively associated with nitroglycerin-mediated dilation. All associations were independent of age, gender, BMI, and mean BP. In conclusion, in this cohort of African Americans visit-to-visit and 24-h BP variability were associated with measures of endothelial injury, endothelial function, and smooth muscle function. These results suggest that BP variability may influence the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, in part, through influences on vascular health.
PMCID: PMC3745784  PMID: 23615389
Blood pressure variability; endothelial function; endothelial microparticles; smooth muscle function; blood pressure; ambulatory blood pressure monitoring
4.  Low correlation between visit-to-visit variability and 24-hour variability of blood pressure 
Visit-to-visit variability (VVV) of clinic systolic blood pressure (SBP) has been associated with cardiovascular disease risk. Given the need for obtaining blood pressure (BP) at multiple visits to calculate VVV, substituting BP variability from ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) may be a practical alternative. We assessed the correlation between VVV of BP and BP variability from ABPM using data from 146 untreated, mostly normotensive participants (mean age 47.9 years) in a substudy of the ongoing Masked Hypertension Study. VVV of SBP and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) was estimated by the standard deviation (SDvvv) and average real variability (ARVvvv) from 6 study visits over a median of 216 days. ABPM data were used to calculate the day-night SD (SDdn) and the ARV of SBP and DBP over 24 hours (ARV24). For SBP, the mean SDvvv and SDdn were 6.3 (SD=2.5) and 8.8 (SD=1.8) mmHg, respectively, and mean ARVvvv and ARV24 were 7.2 (SD=3.2) and 8.4 (SD=2.1) mmHg, respectively. The Spearman correlation coefficient between SDvvv and SDdn of SBP was rs=0.25 and between ARVvvv and ARV24 was rs=0.17. Participants in the highest quartile of SDdn of SBP were 1.66 (95% CI: 0.93 – 2.75) times more likely to be in the highest quartile of SDvvv of SBP. The observed-to-expected ratio between the highest quartiles of ARVvvv and ARV24 of SBP was 0.89 (95% CI: 0.41 – 1.69). The correlations for SDvvv and SDdn and ARVvvv and ARV24 of DBP were minimal. These data suggest VVV and 24-hour variability are weakly correlated and not interchangeable.
PMCID: PMC3856234  PMID: 23784506
Blood pressure variability; reliability; ambulatory blood pressure monitoring; blood pressure measurement; methods
Journal of human hypertension  2014;28(9):521-528.
‘Masked hypertension’ is defined as having non-elevated clinic blood pressure (BP) with elevated out-of-clinic average BP, typically determined by ambulatory BP monitoring. Approximately 15–30% of adults with non-elevated clinic BP have masked hypertension. Masked hypertension is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality compared to sustained normotension (non-elevated clinic and ambulatory BP), which is similar to or approaching the risk associated with sustained hypertension (elevated clinic and ambulatory BP). The confluence of increased cardiovascular risk and a failure to be diagnosed by the conventional approach of clinic BP measurement makes masked hypertension a significant public health concern. However, many important questions remain. First, the definition of masked hypertension varies across studies. Further, the best approach in the clinical setting to exclude masked hypertension also remains unknown. It is unclear whether home BP monitoring is an adequate substitute for ambulatory BP monitoring in identifying masked hypertension. Few studies have examined the mechanistic pathways that may explain masked hypertension. Finally, scarce data are available on the best approach to treating individuals with masked hypertension. Herein, we review the current literature on masked hypertension including definition, prevalence, clinical implications, special patient populations, correlates, issues related to diagnosis, treatment, and areas for future research.
PMCID: PMC4134356  PMID: 24573133
masked hypertension; review; ambulatory blood pressure
6.  Antihypertensive Medication Classes Used among Medicare Beneficiaries Initiating Treatment in 2007–2010 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105888.
After the 2003 publication of the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7) guidelines, there was a 5–10% increase in patients initiating antihypertensive medication with a thiazide-type diuretic, but most patients still did not initiate treatment with this class. There are few contemporary published data on antihypertensive medication classes filled by patients initiating treatment.
Methods and Findings
We used the 5% random Medicare sample to study the initiation of antihypertensive medication between 2007 and 2010. Initiation was defined by the first antihypertensive medication fill preceded by 365 days with no antihypertensive medication fills. We restricted our analysis to beneficiaries ≥65 years who had two or more outpatient visits with a hypertension diagnosis and full Medicare fee-for-service coverage for the 365 days prior to initiation of antihypertensive medication. Between 2007 and 2010, 32,142 beneficiaries in the 5% Medicare sample initiated antihypertensive medication. Initiation with a thiazide-type diuretic decreased from 19.2% in 2007 to 17.9% in 2010. No other changes in medication classes initiated occurred over this period. Among those initiating antihypertensive medication in 2010, 31.3% filled angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-Is), 26.9% filled beta blockers, 17.2% filled calcium channel blockers, and 14.4% filled angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). Initiation with >1 antihypertensive medication class decreased from 25.6% in 2007 to 24.1% in 2010. Patients initiated >1 antihypertensive medication class most commonly with a thiazide-type diuretic and either an ACE-I or ARB.
These results suggest that JNC 7 had a limited long-term impact on the choice of antihypertensive medication class and provide baseline data prior to the publication of the 2014 Evidence-Based Guideline for the Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults from the Panel Members Appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8).
PMCID: PMC4143342  PMID: 25153199
7.  Alterations in Diastolic Function in Masked Hypertension: Findings from the Masked Hypertension Study 
American Journal of Hypertension  2013;26(6):808-815.
In a prior study of patients with diabetes, diastolic function was similarly impaired in masked hypertension (MHT) and sustained hypertension (SHT). We evaluated whether MHT is associated with impaired diastolic function compared with SHT and sustained normotension (NT) in the general population.
From February 2005 to December 2010, 798 participants without a history of cardiovascular disease or treated hypertension, were enrolled in the Masked Hypertension Study. Participants underwent clinic blood pressure (CBP) and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) measurements. A 2-dimensional Doppler echocardiogram was performed to evaluate diastolic function,s cardiac structure, volume, and systolic function. The 9 CBPs obtained across 3 clinic visits and awake ABP measurements were averaged. Clinic hypertension was defined as systolic/diastolic blood pressure (SBP/DBP) ≥ 140/90 mmHg. Ambulatory hypertension was defined as awake SBP/DBP ≥ 135/85mm Hg. MHT was defined as having ambulatory but not clinic hypertension. White-coat hypertensives (n = 8) were excluded from the analysis.
Of the 790 participants, 116 (14.7%) participants had MHT, 37 (4.7%) participants had SHT, and 637 (80.6%) participants had NT. After age, sex, race/ethnicity, and body mass index adjustment, compared with NT, E’-velocities were significantly lower in MHT (P < 0.01) and SHT (P < 0.05), and E/E’ ratios were significantly higher MHT (P < 0.05) and SHT (P < 0.05). These associations were independent of left ventricular mass. Diastolic function parameters did not significantly differ between MHT and SHT.
Diastolic function was impaired in MHT compared with NT independent of changes in left ventricular mass.
PMCID: PMC3657486  PMID: 23446956
ambulatory blood pressure monitoring; blood pressure;  echocardiography; hypertension.
8.  Endothelial-dependent Flow-mediated Dilation in African-Americans with Masked-Hypertension 
American journal of hypertension  2011;24(10):1102-1107.
Office-blood pressure (BP) measurements alone overlook a significant number of individuals with masked-hypertension (office-BP: 120/80 -139/89 mmHg & 24-hr ambulatory BP monitoring, ABPM: daytime >135/85 mmHg or nighttime >120/70 mmHg). Diminished endothelial function contributes to the pathogenesis of hypertension. To better understand the pathophysiology involved in the increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk associated with masked-hypertension, we estimated the occurrence, assessed the endothelial function, compared plasma levels of inflammatory markers, white blood cell count, tumor necrosis factor-α and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and examined the possible relationship between endothelial function and inflammatory markers in apparently healthy prehypertensive (office-BP: 120/80-139/89 mmHg) African-Americans.
50 African-Americans who were sedentary, non-diabetic, non-smoking, devoid of CVD were recruited. Office-BP was measured according to JNC-7 guidelines to identify prehypertensives in whom ABPM was then assessed. Fasting plasma samples were assayed for inflammatory markers. Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation at rest and during reactive hyperemia was measured in a subset of prehypertensives.
Subjects in the masked-hypertension sub-group had a higher hsCRP (P=0.04) and diminished endothelial function (P=0.03) compared to the true-prehypertensive sub-group (office-BP: 120/80-139/89 mmHg & ABPM: daytime <135/85 mmHg or nighttime <120/70 mmHg). Regression analysis showed that endothelial function was inversely related to hsCRP amongst the masked-hypertensive sub-group (R2=0.160; P=0.04).
Masked-hypertension was identified in 58% of African-Americans which suggests that a masking phenomenon may exist in a sub-group of prehypertensives who also seem to have a diminished endothelial function that could be mediated by an elevated subclinical inflammation leading to the increased CVD.
PMCID: PMC3711226  PMID: 21677701
Masked Hypertension; Prehypertension; Endothelial Dysfunction; Flow-mediated Dilation; high sensitivity C-Reactive protein; African-Americans
9.  Endothelial Activation Microparticles and Inflammation Status Improve with Exercise Training in African Americans 
African Americans have the highest prevalence of hypertension in the world which may emanate from their predisposition to heightened endothelial inflammation. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a 6-month aerobic exercise training (AEXT) intervention on the inflammatory biomarkers interleukin-10 (IL-10), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and endothelial microparticle (EMP) CD62E+ and endothelial function assessed by flow-mediated dilation (FMD) in African Americans. A secondary purpose was to evaluate whether changes in IL-10, IL-6, or CD62E+ EMPs predicted the change in FMD following the 6-month AEXT intervention. A pre-post design was employed with baseline evaluation including office blood pressure, FMD, fasting blood sampling, and graded exercise testing. Participants engaged in 6 months of AEXT. Following the AEXT intervention, all baseline tests were repeated. FMD significantly increased, CD62E+ EMPs and IL-6 significantly decreased, and IL-10 increased but not significantly following AEXT. Changes in inflammatory biomarkers did not significantly predict the change in FMD. The change in VO2 max significantly predicted the change in IL-10. Based on these results, AEXT may be a viable, nonpharmacological method to improve inflammation status and endothelial function and thereby contribute to risk reduction for cardiovascular disease in African Americans.
PMCID: PMC3652180  PMID: 23691280
10.  Racial differences in oxidative stress and inflammation: in vitro and in vivo 
African American race is an independent risk factor for enhanced oxidative stress and inflammation. We sought to examine whether oxidative stress and inflammatory markers that are typically measured in human also differ by race in cell culture. We compared levels between African American and Caucasian young adults and then separately in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) from both races. We found heightened oxidative stress and inflammation in the African Americans both in vitro and in vivo. African American HUVECs showed higher nitric oxide (NO) levels (10.8±0.4 vs 8.8±0.7umol/L/mg, P=0.03), IL-6 levels (61.7±4.2 vs 23.9±9.0pg/mg, P=0.02), and lower superoxide dismutase activity (15.6±3.3 vs. 25.4±2.8U/mg, P=0.04), and also higher protein expression (p<0.05) of NADPH oxidase subunit p47phox, isoforms NOX2 and NOX4, endothelial nitric oxide synthase, inducible NOS, as well as IL-6. African American adults had higher plasma protein carbonyls (1.1±0.1 vs 0.8±0.1nmol/mg, P=0.01) and antioxidant capacity (2.3±0.2 vs 1.1±0.3mM, P=0.01). This preliminary translational data demonstrates a racial difference in HUVECs much like that in humans, but should be interpreted with caution given its preliminary nature. It is known that racial differences exist in how humans respond to development and progression of disease, therefore these data suggest that ethnicity of cell model may be important to consider with in vitro clinical research.
PMCID: PMC3077905  PMID: 21348953
African American; NADPH oxidase; HUVECs
11.  Prehypertensive African-American Women Have Preserved Nitric Oxide and Renal Function but High Cardiovascular Risk 
Kidney & Blood Pressure Research  2010;33(4):282-290.
African-Americans, in particular women, exhibit disproportionate levels of hypertension, inflammation, and oxidative stress compared to other ethnic groups. The relationship between prehypertension, renal function, inflammation, and oxidative stress was examined.
Twenty-eight African-American women (53.5 ± 1.1 years) followed an AHA diet and then underwent 24-hour ambulatory BP (ABP) monitoring. Urinary albumin (uAlb), serum and urinary creatinine, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), 24-hour urinary Na+ excretion, plasma superoxide dismutase, total antioxidant capacity (TAC), urinary (uNOx) and plasma (pNOx) nitric oxide levels, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were measured.
When the group was divided by average 24-hour ABP into optimal and nonoptimal groups, a significant difference existed between the groups for uNOx (p = 0.001; nonoptimal: 933.5 ± 140.4, optimal: 425.0 ± 52.6 μmol/gCr), and for hsCRP (p = 0.018, nonoptimal: 3.9 ± 0.7, optimal: 1.9 ± 0.6 mg/l). Significant inverse relationships existed between hsCRP and uNOx and between uAlb and pNOx in the non-optimal group, between GFR and pNOx in the entire group, and positive association existed between TAC and uNOx in the optimal group.
These results suggest that in African-American women as BP levels rise toward hypertension, the NO/NOS balance may be associated with renal function, and may have implications for CV risk based on their hsCRP levels.
PMCID: PMC3214938  PMID: 20628261
Pre-hypertension; Nitric oxide; High-sensitivity C-reactive protein; African-Americans
High blood pressure (BP) levels in African Americans elicit vascular inflammation resulting in vascular remodeling. BP variability (BPV) correlates with target organ damage. We aimed to investigate the relationship between inflammatory markers and BPV in African Americans.
36 African Americans underwent 24-hr ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM). BPV was calculated using the average real variability (ARV) index. Fasting blood samples were assayed for high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and white blood cell (WBC) count.
Significant association between hs-CRP and 24-hr systolic variability (r = 0.50; p = 0.012) and awake systolic variability (r = 0.45; p =0.02) was identified after adjusting for age, BMI and 24-hr mean BP. ABPM variables were compared between the hs-CRP tertile groups. In Post-hoc analysis, there was a significant difference in 24-hr and awake periods for both systolic and diastolic variability among the groups. TNF-α and WBC count showed no associations with ABPM variables.
hs-CRP is associated with systolic variability and higher levels of hs-CRP are related with greater BPV. Higher inflammatory status influences wider fluctuations in systolic BP which in turn could facilitate early progression to target organ damage independent of absolute BP levelsin African Americans.
PMCID: PMC2945908  PMID: 20885987
Blood pressure variability; high sensitivity C-reactive protein; African Americans; tumor necrosis factor-alpha; white blood cells; inflammation
13.  Racial Differences in the Time-Course Oxidative Stress Responses to Acute Exercise 
African Americans have disproportionate levels of cardiovascular disease and oxidative stress. The purpose of our study was to examine racial differences between African American and Caucasian adults in time-course oxidative stress responses to a treadmill test. After a 12-hr fast, 18 participants (9 of each ethnic group; 21 ± 0.4 yrs) completed a submaximal treadmill test and underwent serial blood draws: Pre, Post (within 2 min), 30, 60, and 120 min after exercise. At each time-point, superoxide dismutase (SOD, U/mL), total antioxidant capacity (TAC, mM), protein carbonyls (PC, nmol/mg), and thiobarbituric acid-reactive substance (TBARs, μmol/L) were measured. We found no difference between groups for blood pressure, BMI, or exercise capacity (as measured by volume of oxygen consumed, VO2 max). African Americans had significantly (p < 0.05) higher SOD (Pre: 5.45 ± 0.4 vs. 3.69 ± 0.69; 60 min: 8.99 ± 0.7 vs. 4.23 ± 0.6; 120 min: 9.69 ± 1.6 vs. 3.52 ± 0.7), TAC (Pre: 2.31 ± 0.25 vs. 1.16 ± 0.3; Post: 2.39 ± 0.2 vs. 1.34 ± 0.2; 30 min: 2.29 ± 0.2 vs. 1.09 ± 0.2), and PC (Pre: 1.09 ± 0.1 vs. 0.82 ± 0.1; Post: 1.14 ± 0.1 vs. 0.81 ± 0.1; 30 min: 1.13 ± 0.1 vs. 0.85 ± 0.1; 60 min: 1.06 ± 0.1 vs. 0.81 ± 0.05), but not TBARs. Between groups, only SOD exhibited a different time-course response: levels for African Americans rose steadily throughout the 120 min, while levels for Caucasians peaked at 30 min and by 120 min had returned to pre-exercise levels. Race had a greater effect on oxidative stress responses than submaximal exercise did. African Americans had significantly higher TAC, SOD, and PC levels compared to Caucasians.
PMCID: PMC3118095  PMID: 21691463
African Americans; Sub-maximal Exercise; Antioxidants; Nitric Oxide; Superoxide Dismutase; Total Antioxidant Capacity
14.  Clinical Risk Factors Demonstrate an Age-dependent Relationship with Oxidative Stress Biomarkers in African Americans 
Ethnicity & disease  2010;20(4):403-408.
To examine the interaction of oxidative stress biomarkers with age, and also factors that influence oxidative stress such as body mass index (BMI) and fitness in a population of individuals with established higher risk of cardiovascular disease, African Americans.
Blood samples were obtained from healthy college-age and middle-age to older African Americans. Participants underwent a graded exercise test. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, total antioxidant capacity and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) levels were measured.
TBARS levels were significantly (P=.001) lower in young participants relative to middle-age to older participants. SOD activity was significantly (P=.001) lower in middle-age to older participants with low fitness relative to participants with normal fitness, and lower (P=.04) in middle-age to older participants that were overweight relative to normal weight participants.
In a healthy middle-age to older population of African Americans, BMI and fitness are crucial for maintaining a healthy endothelium.
PMCID: PMC3103990  PMID: 21305829
Aging; Oxidative Stress; African Americans; Fitness; BMI
15.  The relationship of oxidative stress and cholesterol with dipping status before and after aerobic exercise training 
Blood pressure  2009;18(4):171-179.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of aerobic exercise training (AEXT) on dipping status in pre-hypertensive and stage-1 hypertensive individuals. A secondary purpose was to evaluate whether AEXT alters oxidative stress and endothelial biomarkers correlated to dipping status.
Twenty-three subjects underwent 24-h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring at baseline and after 6 months of AEXT. AEXT consisted of training at 70% VO2max 3 days/week for 6 months. Total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, oxidized LDL (ox-LDL), triglycerides, urinary and plasma nitric oxide end-products, superoxide dismutase and 8-iso-PGF2α were measured before and after AEXT. Statistically, ANOVA and linear regression were used.
Before and after AEXT, there were no significant differences between dippers and non-dippers in any of the biomarkers except for total cholesterol following AEXT. In a sub-analysis following AEXT, 14 subjects retained their original dipping status, five subjects changed from dippers to non-dippers and four subjects changed from non-dippers to dippers. Significant differences existed between these groups in changes in total and LDL-cholesterol, ox-LDL, 8-iso-PGF2α and % Dip.
Changes in cholesterol levels but not oxidative stress or endothelial biomarkers were related to changes in BP variables following AEXT in dippers and non-dippers.
PMCID: PMC2922419  PMID: 19544106
Aerobic exercise; ambulatory blood pressure monitoring; dipper; non-dipper; hypertension; oxidative stress

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