Education, Genetic Ancestry, and Blood Pressure in African Americans and Whites

Researchers have speculated genetic differences may be a contributing factor in health disparities. To explore this topic, the present study examined the role education and genetic ancestry play in predicting blood pressure (BP) among African Americans, looking at both within-group relationships of genetic ancestry, education, and BP and between-group relationships, specifically African Americans and Whites. The study confirms the finding that genetic ancestry is not associated with BP.

Data was used from the Family Blood Pressure Program study. For the purposes of this study, only African American and White participants were included. The average participant age was 45.29. Linear regression and t tests were used to analyze the data.

Key Findings:

  • Comparable to previous findings, average levels of African American ancestry did not differ significantly between individuals with high blood pressure and normal blood pressure.
  • Individuals with education less than or equal to a high school degree were more likely to experience increased blood pressure, as compared to those with more education than a high school degree.
  • The association between education and BP was stronger in African Americans than in Whites.

Racial disparities may be better explained by educational differences as opposed to genetic ones. Social environment factors should be considered when seeking to understand diseases.

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