Incarceration, Incident Hypertension, and Access to Health Care

This article examines the relationship between incarceration and cardiovascular disease among young adults. While incarceration is known to be associated with mortality from cardiovascular disease, little is known about the mechanism of the relationship.

The authors used data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study to analyze the relationship between incarceration and heart disease for 4,350 respondents age 18-30 in 1985-1986.

Key Findings:

  • Seven percent of respondents reported previous incarceration. These respondents were more likely to have incident hypertension than never-incarcerated respondents, even after adjustment for family income, illicit drug and alcohol use, and smoking.
  • Previously incarcerated respondents were more likely to report no regular source for medical care and to have left ventricular hypertrophy.
  • A history of incarceration was not linked to rates of diabetes or cholesterol levels.

Previous incarceration is linked to hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy in young adults.