Black women face a significantly higher risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) in childbearing age, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers at UMass Chan School of Medicine Worcester, Massachusettsanalyzed data that was collected from 1,293 women between 2001 and 2018.
All of the women were between the ages of 20 and 50 and had high blood pressure.
Black women have been found to have more than twice the uncontrolled blood pressure of white women. In addition, 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 140/90 mmHg. or higher.
In comparison, the normal blood pressure range is less than 120/80 mmHg.
“Our study found that black women of childbearing age with hypertension were more likely to have uncontrolled blood pressure 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 the University of Massachusetts, told Fox News Digital in an email.
“Over the 18-year period studied, these inequalities continued and worsened.”
Lavana W. Brown, MSN, based in South Carolina, is director of the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Online Program at Regis College. She did not participate in the study; she finds the results disturbing but not surprising.
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“As an African American health care provider, I understand that we have a problem with hypertension in this community that is more severe than in other communities,” she told Fox News Digital in an email.
According to her, many of Brown’s family members and patients had problems with hypertension, and she herself was diagnosed with it in 2018.
Hypertension poses a risk during childbirth
The researchers found that approximately 17.6% of women of childbearing age suffer from hypertension.
“Identifying and addressing factors that contribute to imbalances in blood pressure control is especially important for women who may become pregnant, as high blood pressure is a leading cause of pregnancy-related death and disability,” Meyerowitz said.
“While hypertension is a treatable, common, and chronic disease, it is a leading cause of pregnancy-related death and serious illness,” study senior author Lara S. Covell, MD, a cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine, told Fox News Digital. in an email.
“In the United States, the pregnancy-related death rate is much higher than in economically similar countries, and black women are affected disproportionately.”
Approximately 17.6% of women of childbearing age suffer from arterial hypertension.
Black, Hispanic, and Asian women have been found to have higher risk of stroke or “severe soreness” during childbirth.
Black women were also three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines severe maternal morbidity as “unexpected outcomes of labor and delivery that result in significant short-term or long-term health consequences for the woman.”
Access to food, dietary choices play a role
When comparing each ethnic group—59.2% were white, 23.4% black, 15.8% Hispanic, and 1.7% Asian—the researchers also found that Hispanic and Black women were more likely to experience food insecurity than whites. women
Food insecurity, as defined by the FDA, is “the lack of consistent access to enough food for every family member to lead an active and healthy life.”
It was found that one in four black women and one in three Hispanic women lacked access to healthy food.
“Food insecurity is important when it comes to high blood pressure, as sodium levels are higher in many inexpensive foods such as canned food, ultra-processed foods and fast food,” the doctor said. Covell.
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“Moreover, food insecurity and lack of access to healthy foods have been shown in other studies to increase the risk of high blood pressure.”
The study found no difference in blood pressure between Hispanic and white women, despite Hispanic women being more food insecure.
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“Diet is in many ways the key to better health,” said Brown of South Carolina. “African American diets have traditionally included fried foods with lots of spices and high sodium, and this may contribute to hypertension.”
“Prepared or processed foods tend to be an easy and cheap choice, and they often contribute to poor health.”
She added: “Because we all live busy lives, cooked or processed foods also tend to be an easy and cheap choice, and this often contributes to poor health.”
Lead author Meyerowitz said she believes the results point to other factors as well, including racism, discrimination and stress.
“Stress is a factorBecause the story of a “strong black woman” encourages some to hide their weariness and emotions,” Brown, an African American, said on this occasion.
“Chronic stress is often associated with health conditions such as hypertension.”
Researchers say the study had limitations
Although the study included a large and diverse sample of women, the researchers acknowledged some limitations.
The study only looked at women in the US and was based on self-reported survey data.
In addition, it did not take into account differences in subgroups within larger ethnic groups.
In addition, only one blood pressure measurement was included for each woman, and there was no data on whether prescribed medications were taken as directed.
Healthy lifestyle choices are key
To help counter a higher risk of high blood pressure, Dr. Robert Salazar, cardiologist at Memorial Hermann in Houston who did not participate in the study, said that it is essential to lead a healthy lifestyle.
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“Regular exercisefresh foods and avoiding excess sodium remain the foundation for optimal health,” Dr. Salazar told Fox News Digital in an email.
“In addition, patients should be seen regularly by their doctor so that their general health can be assessed, including mental health and adjusting medications as needed.”
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The authors of the study acknowledge that more research is needed in this area.
“We undertook this study to help explain the disparity in maternal mortality in the US, but we still have more work to do to understand the differences in maternal mortality between white and black women,” the doctor said. Covell said.