Racial Discrimination Linked to Increased Risk of CVD Death

By Tamara Thomas - Last Updated: May 16, 2023

According to a new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, racial discrimination may increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease-related death. Prior research found that discrimination is linked to health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Researchers followed participants for almost 20 years to better understand how discrimination impacts mortality and identify the most affected groups. The study population included 1633 Black, 1403 Hispanic, and 2473 White participants aged 45 to 84 with no prior history of cardiovascular disease. The researchers examined participants 6 times between 2000 and 2018.

Participants were asked if they had ever been mistreated in different areas, such as being denied a promotion or when trying to find housing. They were also asked if they experienced discrimination in their everyday interactions, such as being treated rudely or made to feel unintelligent.

The study showed that lifetime discrimination was most common among Black participants, with 61% reporting discrimination compared with 39% Hispanic and 37% White participants.

After adjusting for factors like age, race, income, high blood pressure, and diabetes, researchers found that the risk of dying from heart disease or a stroke increased by 15% for every 1-point increase in lifetime discrimination. When the researchers observed race, they discovered that Black participants had an 18% higher risk of cardiovascular disease-related death than their White counterparts.

The research team found that everyday discrimination was only statistically significant for White participants, who had a 51% higher risk of cardiovascular disease-related death. This trend was not observed in Black participants. The researchers suggested this finding may be related to White participants who have lower socioeconomic status or belong to ethnic groups that have historically faced prejudice, such as Jewish people.

Wayne Lawrence, the study’s lead author and a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute, urged healthcare providers and policymakers to take a more proactive approach to identifying and addressing psychosocial stressors. He also noted the importance of resource provision to mitigate the negative health impacts of these stressors and develop new policies and interventions to end discrimination.

Source: AHA News

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