Health, News

African Americans Who Think Often About Race Suffer from High Blood Pressure

By Frederick H. Lowe

African Americans who are hyper-vigilant about racial matters are more likely to suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure, according a study published by Johns Hopkins University.

The study titled, “Association of Race Consciousness with the Patient–Physician Relationship, Medication Adherence, and Blood Pressure in Urban Primary Care Patients, was published in the American Journal of Hypertension. As part of ongoing research into doctor-patient relationships and racial disparities in health care, Linda Cooper, M.D., a professor in the division of Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins, and her colleagues surveyed 266 patients in an urban health clinic in Baltimore between September 2003 and August 2005.

Black men who think a lot about race often suffer from high blood pressure.
Black men who think a lot about race often suffer from high blood pressure.

Some 62 percent of the patients were African American. Patients both black and white were asked how often they thought about race. Researchers created two categories: those who thought about race and those who said they never did. Half of the African-American patients said they thought about race and only 20 percent of whites said they did.

When blood pressures were measured, race-conscious black patients had significantly higher diastolic blood pressure and somewhat higher systolic blood pressure than black patients who were not preoccupied with race, the study found.

Systolic blood pressure, which is the upper number in pressure readings, measures the force pressure from the beating heart places on the arteries moving blood to the rest of the body. Diastolic blood pressure measure, the bottom number, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.

Cooper, director of the Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities, said it is well known that chronic stress can increase blood pressure.

At a conference hosted last February by the University Of Chicago School Of Social Service Administration, Dr. Waldo Johnson Jr., said that black men, particularly young black men, are hyper-vigilant to any signs of danger coming from the police or people who act like the police, such as George Zimmerman, who shot to death an unarmed Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.

The one-day symposium was titled “Black Young Men in America: Rising Above Social and Racial Prejudice, Trauma and Educational Disparities.” Dr. Johnson is editor of the book “Social Work With African American Males.”



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