Cardiovascular Disease Among Black Americans

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Blacks living in the 50 U.S. states are more than 2.37 times more likely to have coronary heart disease than Blacks living in the U.S. Virgin Islands after adjusting for age, sex, and education.



The Issue:

Black Americans have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and related behavioral risk factors than other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Most studies, however, limit their population to the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (US50), which excludes Blacks living in the U.S. territories such as the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). The USVI in the Caribbean includes the islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John, and its residents are predominantly Black (76.2%).


Key Findings:

  • USVI Blacks had lower prevalence of coronary heart disease (1.7%) and stroke (1.6%) compared to US50 Blacks (3.7% and 4.0%, respectively).
  • USVI Blacks had lower prevalence of prevalence of hypertension (29.3%) compared to US50 Blacks (41.1%).
  • USVI Blacks were less likely to have a high school diploma and less likely to have health insurance. They were more likely to consume the recommended levels of fruits and vegetables.They were less likely to be smokers.



The authors believe the findings suggest that contextual and physical factors other than race contribute to health differences.

They write: “These within-group differences among Black people in different national and cultural contexts highlight the importance of sociostructural determinants of health that can most effectively be addressed at local and national policy levels to reduce racial/ethnic health disparities in the U.S. and elsewhere and to improve the health of Black Americans specifically.”


About the Study:

Researchers used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey to compare the cardiovascular health of USVI Backs to US50 Blacks.