Research: HALBERSTEIN and colleague

Listed in Issue 28


HALBERSTEIN and colleagues, Department of Anthropology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-2005 USA reviews the literature (102 references) regarding chronic hypertension throughout the Caribbean area.




Several lines of evidence suggests the involvement of genetics, including significant ethnic differences in blood pressure, a higher incidence of hypertension in smaller isolated islands, the discovery of polymorphic blood proteins which appear to be linked to hypertension susceptibility, as well as the slavery hypothesis of natural selection which tends to favour a salt-conserving physiology in ancestral populations. The author notes that environmental factors including climate, demographics, and culture exert strong influences upon blood pressure levels and hypertension aetiology; salt intake and other dietary factors, the degree of community awareness of hypertension and varying treatment modalities are related to hypertension epidemiology in indigenous and migrant Caribbean populations. The historically successful traditional use of medicinal plants has in more recent times been supplemented with drugs.


The author recommends prospective research strategies in order to further elucidate the complex genetic-environmental interactions contributing to blood pressure variation and hypertension in the Caribbean.


Halberstein RA. Blood pressure in the Caribbean. Human Biology: An International Record of Research 71(4): 659-84. Aug 1999.

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