Navigation Links
'Hyper-vigilance' about race linked to elevated blood pressure in black patients
Date:8/13/2013

Black patients preoccupied with racial concerns have higher blood pressure than those who aren't, according to results of new Johns Hopkins-led research. The findings suggest that heightened race consciousness could at least in part account for the disproportionately high rate of hypertension in black Americans the highest prevalence of any group in the United States and one of the highest rates in the world.

"A preoccupation with race among blacks leads to hyper-vigilance, a heightened awareness of their stigmatized status in society and a feeling that they need to watch their backs constantly," says Lisa A. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., a professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the study described online in the American Journal of Hypertension. "African-Americans have higher blood pressure, and it has been difficult to explain why this is true. It doesn't appear to be genetic, and while things like diet, exercise and reduced access to health care may contribute, we think that a tense social environment, the sense of being treated differently because of your race, could also possibly explain some of what's behind the higher rates."

Cooper says the issue of such hyper-vigilance and race consciousness has drawn more public attention in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in Florida. Her own African-American son, she says, is very aware of his surroundings.

"It's stressful for him to walk around thinking at anytime someone might think he's dong something wrong just because of his race," she says. "That's just something he lives with. If you don't live with it, maybe it's hard to understand it. It's something people often don't want to talk about."

As part of ongoing research into doctor-patient relationships and racial disparities, Cooper and her colleagues surveyed 266 patients in urban health clinics in Baltimore between September 2003 and August 2005. Sixty-two percent of the patients were black. To test for race consciousness, they used the 2002 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System "Reactions to Race" module developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients both black and white were asked how often they thought about their race.

Two categories were created: Those who said they ever think about their race and those who said they never do. Half of the black patients responded that they "ever" think about it, and one in five white patients said they did.

When blood pressures were measured, being a race-conscious black patient was associated with significantly higher diastolic blood pressure (roughly five millimeters of mercury) and somewhat higher systolic blood pressure (some four millimeters of mercury) than black patients who were not preoccupied with race. There was no effect on blood pressure in race conscious white patients. Systolic blood pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, measures the force that pressure from the beating heart places on the arteries moving blood to the rest of the body, while diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number, indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.

Cooper, director of the Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities, says it is well known that chronic stress can increase blood pressure. Similarly, she says tasks that require active coping efforts may increase heart rate and systolic blood pressure, while tasks that require quiet attentiveness and vigilance may lead to decreased cardiac output as well as increased diastolic blood pressure.

In addition to the link between race consciousness and blood pressure, Cooper's team found that whites who were race conscious were more likely to feel respected in the doctor-patient relationship than whites who were not concerned with race, though they were less likely to take their blood pressure medication as prescribed.

"Given the socially dominant status of whites in the United States, higher levels of race consciousness could reflect greater awareness of white privilege," the authors note in the study. "Another explanation, particularly among whites who reside in areas with a high black population, is that race consciousness reflects a heightened fear of victimization, an anxiety-provoking stressor. Scholars of critical race theory are still debating whether race consciousness enhances or adversely effects the health of whites."

Cooper notes that it can be stressful for black people to go shopping in a store and feel they are being watched extra closely. Equally stressful, she says, is for example, waiting a long time to be served at a restaurant, and being ignored, possibly because of one's race.

More research is needed to understand the biological consequences of race consciousness, including those related to stress, she adds, with a goal of developing interventions to help people effectively cope with environmental stressors.

"We need to help people of all races cope with race-related stress in a healthier way," she says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Inside Edition’s Lisa Guerrero and Entertainment Industries Council “Get Real” About Mental Health
2. Getting the Truth about Drugs to the People of Milan
3. Auto Accident Lawyers Release New Infographic about the Dangers of Defective Car Parts
4. Study: Many evangelicals are ambivalent about homosexuality and civil unions for gays
5. Brandith Irwin, MD, of SkinTour.com Answers New Blog Question About Improving Neck Skin Non-Surgically
6. Thinking about family matters linked to stress for working moms, not dads
7. TheBeautyPlace.com Dishes Facts Everyone Should Know About Obtaining Healthy Hair
8. American Addiction Center's Team of Adolescent Addiction Specialists Provide Key Professional Advice for Parents in Talking to Their Teens About Substance Use
9. SkinTour.com Shares Skincare Tip of the Week About Cosmetic Dermatology Treatments That Are Right for You
10. SpiritDetox.com Announces Launch of New Video About Healing Tea
11. Corporate Whistleblower Center Now Urges Medical Device Insiders Or Physicians To Call Them About Whistleblower Programs If They Have Proof Of Kickbacks Or Bribery
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... People across ... in Genome magazine’s Code Talker Award, an essay contest in which patients and their ... award to be presented at the 2016 National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... NY (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Haute Living, is proud to recognize Dr. Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent ... “the most beautiful women in the world, and the most handsome men, look ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Strategic Capital Partners, LLC ... by obtaining investment capital for emerging technology companies. SCP has delivered investment ... resulted in more than a million dollars of capital investment for five companies. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Venture ... Golf Classic Tournament held on June 20th at the Woodmont Country Club at ... Luke’s Wings, an organization dedicated to helping service members that have been wounded in ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Advanced Plastic Surgery Institute ( ... as its official Medspa Sponsor. Dr. Josh Olson, a board-certified plastic surgeon, owns ... Dr. Olson says the decision to support the pageant in an official capacity ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy ... that would allow biopharmaceutical companies to more easily share ... formulary and coverage decisions, a move that addresses the ... The recommendations address restrictions in the sharing ... drug label, a prohibition that hinders decision makers from ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has announced ... Diagnostic Tests" report to their offering. ... The World Market for Companion Diagnostics covers ... Market analysis in the report includes the following: ... Diagnostic Kits) by Region (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 ... appointment of Dr. Edward Futcher to ... Director, effective June 23, 2016.Dr. Futcher was also ... and Governance Committees.  As a non-executive member of ... expertise and strategic counsel to VolitionRx in connection ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: