Decades of research suggest that there may be important ethnic differences in the hemodynamic mechanisms that co-determine arterial blood pressure, the primary diagnostic index of hypertension. In general, studies have observed that, compared with European Americans (EAs), African Americans (AAs) exhibit higher total peripheral resistance (TPR), an important summative index of peripheral vascular constriction. In contrast, EAs have been reliably shown to exhibit greater cardiac output (CO), which is directly linked to left ventricle and overall cardiac blood flow. We have previously proposed that elevated basal TPR, in particular, represents one component of the cardiovascular conundrum, characterized, paradoxically, by elevated resting heart rate variability among AAs relative to EAs. The present meta-analysis and systematic review of the literature sought to extend this previous work by establishing the magnitude of the empirically implied ethnic differences in resting TPR and CO.
A search of the literature yielded 140 abstracts on differences in TPR between AAs and EAs; 40 were included. Sample sizes, means, and standard deviations for baseline TPR with samples that included EAs and AAs were collected, and Hedges g was computed.
Findings indicated that AAs had higher baseline TPR than did EAs (Hedges g = 0.307, SE = 0.043, confidence interval= 0.224 to 0.391, p < .001). In addition, EAs had higher resting CO than did AAs (Hedges g = −0.214, SE = 0.056, confidence interval = −0.324 to −0.104, p < .001).
We discuss the present findings in the context of the role of elevated TPR in the deleterious effects of high blood pressure specifically for AAs.