Does race affect heart disease risk?


Older adults of color are disproportionately at risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for most racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. This prevalence is partially attributed to higher rates of blood pressure, obesity and smoking among communities of color, as well as the lack of affordable, accessible, and culturally and linguistically appropriate health care. For example, the Office for Minority Health notes that communities of color often receive substandard health care from medical professionals, from basic miscommunication to overt prejudice and discrimination.

Race can affect heart disease risk. Heart disease affects different populations in different ways. For example, while 6.6 percent of Caucasian American adults and 6.3 percent of African American adults are living with heart disease, African American men are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease, as compared to Caucasian American men, according to the Office of Minority Health.

Additionally, African American women are 1.6 times as likely as non-Hispanic white adults to have high blood pressure.

Also, according to the Office of Minority Health, American Indians/Alaska Natives, on average, are more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than their white counterparts.

For people of all ethnicities, knowing and properly managing biometric numbers such as weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, can prevent or delay heart disease and its complications.

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African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans and native Hawaiians, for instance, are all more likely than Caucasians of European descent to develop heart disease. Researchers are still trying to determine how much of the risk stems from genetics and how much from cultural practices.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.