Study: Black Americans at Greater Risk of Dying from Heart Disease

A new study reveals that Black Americans have a greater risk of dying from heart disease than whites.


Researchers referenced what they call ‘social factors’ for for the main cause for the high risk. Among the social factors that contribute to the racial disparity were unemployment, low income, lack of regular access to health care and lack of a partner, according to Tulane University researchers said.

“For so many years we have focused on smoking, diet, physical activity, obesity, [high blood pressure], diabetes and high cholesterol — and we know those are important” for preventing heart disease, said lead author Dr. Jiang He, chair in epidemiology at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. He added he was surprised that the Black-white difference in heart-disease death rates owes mainly to social factors.

The study reveals that Black Americans are 54 percent more likely to die of heart disease than white Americans. The statistic, researchers say, is true even though there is currently a substantial overall reduction in heart disease deaths nationwide.

The study used health data from more than 50,000 U.S. adults. The researchers examined links between heart-related deaths and clinical risk factors like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure as well as lifestyle factors, including smoking, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and too little or too much sleep.

Researchers also considered social risk factors, such as unemployment, low income, food insecurity, limited education, lack of private health insurance, poor access to health care, and not being married or living with a partner.Compared to white adults, Black adults had a 54 percent higher risk of heart-related death, which dropped to 34 percent after adjusting for clinical factors and 31% after adjusting for lifestyle risk factors.

“However, after adjusting for social risk factors, this racial difference totally disappeared,” He said in a university news release.

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