Black women ages 20-50 are twice as likely to have high blood pressure than White women, says new study
Black women face a significantly higher risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) in their childbearing years, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers at UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts, analyzed data collected from 1,293 women between 2001 and 2018.
All the women were between 20 and 50 years of age and had high blood pressure.
Black women were found to be more than twice as likely to have uncontrolled blood pressure as whites. Additionally, black and Hispanic women were more likely to be obese than white women.
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The American Heart Association defines uncontrolled blood pressure as measuring 140/90 mmHg or higher.
For comparison, a normal blood pressure range is less than 120/80 mmHg.
“Our study showed that black women of childbearing age with hypertension were more likely to have uncontrolled hypertension than white women, even after controlling for social determinants of health, medical conditions, and lifestyle,” lead author Claire Meyerowitz, a fourth-year medical student at UMass Chan Medical School, told Fox News Digital via email.
“Over the 18-year period studied, this disparity has persisted and worsened.”
Lawana too. Brown, MSN, is the director of the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Online Program at Regis College, based in South Carolina. He was not involved in the study; She finds the results concerning but not surprising.
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“As an African American health care provider, I feel that we have a hypertension problem in this community that is more significant than other communities,” she told Fox News Digital in an email.
Many of Brown’s family members and patients have experienced problems with hypertension — and he himself was diagnosed with it in 2018, he said.
Hypertension poses a risk during childbirth
Researchers found that approximately 17.6% of women in their childbearing years experience hypertension.
“Identifying and addressing factors that contribute to disparities in blood pressure control is particularly important for women who may become pregnant, as high blood pressure is a leading cause of pregnancy-related death and disability. is,” Meyerowitz said.
“Although hypertension is a treatable, common and chronic condition, it is a leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths and serious morbidity,” said senior study author Lara C., MD, a cardiologist at UMass Chan Medical School. Cowell told Fox News Digital. In an email.
“The United States has a much higher rate of pregnancy-related deaths than economically similar countries — and black women are disproportionately affected.”
About 17.6% of women experience hypertension in their childbearing years.
Black, Hispanic and Asian women were found to have a higher risk of stroke or “critical illness” during delivery.
Black women were three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines acute maternal illness as “unexpected consequences of labor and delivery that have significant short- or long-term consequences for a woman’s health.”
Access to food, dietary choices play a role
When comparing each racial group — 59.2% were white, 23.4% were black, 15.8% were Hispanic and 1.7% were Asian — the researchers also found that Hispanic and black women experienced more food insecurity than whites.
Food insecurity, as defined by the FDA, is “the lack of consistent access to enough food for everyone in the household to live an active, healthy life.”
One in four black women and one in three Hispanic women were found to lack access to healthy food.
“Food insecurity is important when thinking about high blood pressure because many low-cost food options such as canned, ultra-processed and fast foods are high in sodium,” said Dr. Cowell. Cowell said.
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“Additionally, other studies have shown food insecurity and lack of access to healthy foods to increase the risk of high blood pressure.”
The study found no difference in blood pressure between Hispanic women and white women, despite the fact that Hispanic women experienced a greater degree of food insecurity.
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“Diet is very important for better health outcomes,” said Brown, of South Carolina. “African American diets have traditionally included fried foods that are highly seasoned and high in sodium. , and this may contribute to hypertension.”
“Prepared or processed foods are also easy and cheap options, and these often contribute to poor health outcomes.”
He added, “Because we all lead busy lives, ready-made or processed foods are also easy and cheap options, and these often contribute to poor health outcomes.”
Lead author Meyerowitz said that for him, the findings suggest other factors at work — including racism, discrimination and stress.
“Stress is a factor, because the ‘strong black woman’ narrative prompts some people to hide their fatigue and emotions,” Brown, who is African American, points out.
“Severe stress is often associated with health conditions such as hypertension.”
The researchers say the study had limitations
Although the study included a large and diverse sample of women, the researchers acknowledged some limitations.
The study looked only at women in the US and relied on self-reported survey data.
Also, it did not account for differences between subgroups within larger ethnic groups.
In addition, only one blood pressure measurement was included for each woman—and no data on whether prescribed medications were taken.
Healthy lifestyle choices are key
To help combat the high risk of elevated blood pressure, Dr. Robert Salazar, a cardiologist at Memorial Hermann in Houston who was not involved in the study, said maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important.
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“Regular exercise, fresh food and avoiding excess sodium remain the cornerstones of optimal health,” Dr. Salazar told Fox News Digital in an email.
“Additionally, patients should follow up regularly with their physician to allow for general health assessment, including mental health and prescription of medications as needed.”
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The study authors agree that more research is needed in this area.
“We did this study to help explain the disparity in maternal mortality in America, but we still have a lot of work to do to understand the difference in maternal mortality between white and black women,” Dr. Cowell said. .”