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Research Notes

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published February 7, 2002

Blood pressure treatment made more effective

Kenneth Jamerson, associate professor and director of the University Health System"s Program for Multi-Cultural Health, along with two other physicians discovered a more effective treatment for high blood pressure, which occurs more often in blacks than in any other ethnic group.

Results from his study indicate that blacks with high blood pressure and resulting kidney damage benefited most from new medications that help preserve kidney function by acting on hormones produced by the kidney.

Jamerson"s study found the most effective type of medication for 1,100 back participants diagnosed with hypertension-induced kidney damage. According to Jamerson, with the right medication and lifestyle changes, the risk of kidney failure in blacks was no higher than in the rest of the population.

An estimated 50 million Americans have high blood pressure. Also referred to as the silent killer, high blood pressure causes no discernible symptoms until it is too late to prevent complications including heart attack, stroke or kidney failure.

According to Jamerson, scientists used to believe that blacks were genetically predisposed to develop high blood pressure but there is little evidence of a genetic basis and blacks in the U.S. are genetically more similar to whites in the U.S. than they are to blacks in Africa.

The cause of racial differences in the incidence of high blood pressure is still unknown, but Jamerson believes that with improved treatment, new medications and better education, racial disparities in disease complications should be eliminated.

"U" researchers look at improving insulin injections

Endocrinologists at the University Health System are studying two insulin delivery systems for diabetics. They include injections using the insulin "pen" and continuous insulin infusion using the pump.

Diabetes is a serious lifelong condition that occurs when the body doesn"t produce enough insulin to convert sugar into energy.

The insulin injections, part of the prescribed treatment for diabetes can be difficult to manage.

The insulin pump delivers a continuous dose of insulin through a catheter placed under the skin. The pump can also be programmed to deliver additional amounts of insulin before meals and snacks. The "pen" also allows diabetics to set a dial to the desired amount of insulin.

To find the most effective way of delivering insulin for older people with Type 2 diabetes, researchers at the University of Michigan in collaboration with the University of Texas Southwestern, are conducting a 13-month study to compare the insulin pump treatment and daily insulin injections in patients who are 60 and older. Treatment satisfaction, cost-effectiveness, side effects and blood control will be the comparative methods for the study.

Americans over the age of 65 with diabetes, which is an estimated 15 to 20 percent of Americans over the age of 65 are specifically targeted for the study. Researchers are trying to come up with the most cost-effective way to manage blood sugar levels in elderly diabetics.

Diabetes can lead to chronic life-threatening complications such as kidney failure, blindness and can affect the nerves in the legs and arms, possibly resulting in amputation.

People with Type 2 diabetes- diabetes that begins after the age of 40- are more likely to have cardiovascular disease, strokes and heart attacks. Controlling blood sugar levels is a key part of preventing diabetes complications.

Compiled by Daily Staff Reporter April Effort.