Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Hypertension Prevalence

Reconsidering the Role of Chronic Stress
Two nurses take patient's blood pressure.

This study suggests that vigilance may be a source of chronic stress contributing to higher prevalence of hypertension among Blacks.

The Issue:
While racial and ethnic disparities in hypertension are widely studied, the impact of chronic stress on hypertension among racial/ethnic lines is not well understood. This study is the first examination of the association between racism-related vigilance and hypertension among Black, Hispanic, and White adults.

Key Findings

  • Blacks reported the highest vigilance levels.

  • Among Blacks, each unit increase in vigilance was associated with a four percent increase in the odds of hypertension.

  • Hispanics showed a similar, but nonsignificant association, while Whites showed no association.

Conclusions: This study suggests that vigilance may be a source of chronic stress contributing to higher prevalence of hypertension among Blacks. Examining both conventional and unconventional risk factors will help to eliminate hypertension disparities.

This study was limited to a single city and was cross-sectional; further research will require a more robust sample.

About the Study: The Chicago Community Adult Health Study, a cross-sectional, population-representative survey of adults living in Chicago was used. Regression was performed on data from May 2001 to March 2003 to examine hypertension prevalence and the interaction between race-ethnicity and vigilance.