Narrator: This is Science Today. UCLA researchers have identified that hypertension, or elevated blood pressure, accounts for 15% of the life expectancy gap between blacks and whites- making it the leading contribution. Mitchell Wong, an assistant professor of medicine, led the study and says that these findings were surprising.
Wong: Looking at the differences in life expectancy between blacks and whites, we were surprised to see that hypertension was number one. We in fact expected that heart attacks would be number one - basically because it's the leading cause of death among both blacks and whites.
Narrator: Wong says that hypertension's effect on younger populations accounts for the gap.
Wong: Hypertension is often considered a contributing disease. But in fact, really hypertension is the underlying cause for many people and although it's a less common cause, it does cause death perhaps because hypertension starts at a much younger age and thus can cause death at a younger age. But the good news is that some primary prevention - meaning, screening - and change in behaviors that promote or make certain diseases more likely - we can do quite a lot.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.