The question of whether there should be separate research and study for hypertension in Black people compared to white people is a complex and sensitive topic. While hypertension affects individuals of all races and ethnicities, there is evidence to suggest that there may be racial and ethnic disparities in the prevalence, severity, and management of hypertension.
Howard, G., et al. (2018). Association of Clinical and Social Factors with Excess Hypertension Risk in Black Compared with Whites, asserts support of findings, based on “further study and research,” that in a general sense, Black adults have higher hypertension prevalence than White adults. Of note is that Black women have the highest prevalence of hypertension when compared to White Americans in general.
That it’s hard to find any expressed need for deeper medical research to find reasons that look beyond “lack of access to care and lack of access to healthy foods and other societal issues” is alarming. But one must agree that there’s an urgent need to figure out why 56.8% and 57.6% of African American men and women, respectively, over the age of 20, are taking antihypertensive medication in America.
Could it be that Blood Pressure measures or indicators used for people of African descent in America are not ideal, and could this be why they respond differently to medication for high blood pressure than other groups? Could Body Mass Index (BMI) be part of the reason for this? These are pressing questions that Blacks are at a loss for answers, failure of which could lead to conforming to a lifetime of living on medication at best or earlier death at worst.
“African Americans are more likely to develop complications associated with high blood pressure such as stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, blindness and dementia,” should be enough reason for more urgent research or deeper study.
Others suggest that people of African descent may be more sensitive to salt which gives rise to high blood pressure but one wonders if the basis used for diagnosing Blacks are correct since Nigerian medical health considers 140/90 mmHg a normal healthy reading for Blacks.
From heart.org: “The prevalence of high blood pressure among Black people in the United States is among the highest in the world. About 55% of Black adults have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension or HBP. Black people also have disproportionately high rates of more severe HBP and it develops earlier in life.” All underscoring what we already know.
Here are a few reasons why separate research and study for hypertension in different racial and ethnic groups might be important:
- Health disparities: Research has shown that certain racial and ethnic groups, including Black individuals, have higher rates of hypertension and related complications compared to white individuals. By conducting specific research on hypertension in Black people, healthcare providers and researchers can better understand the underlying factors contributing to these disparities and develop targeted interventions to address them.
- Genetic and physiological differences: There is growing evidence suggesting that genetic and physiological differences can influence an individual’s risk of developing hypertension and their response to different treatments. These differences can vary among racial and ethnic groups. By studying hypertension in specific populations, including Black individuals, researchers can gain insights into the genetic and physiological factors that may contribute to the development and management of hypertension.
- Social and environmental factors: Social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, and environmental factors, can significantly influence the development and management of hypertension. These factors can vary across different racial and ethnic groups. By conducting separate research, scientists can investigate how these social and environmental factors intersect with race and ethnicity to contribute to hypertension disparities and develop interventions that address these specific challenges.
It’s important to note that advocating for separate research and study does not imply a belief in biological or genetic determinism based on race. Rather, it recognizes the importance of considering the unique experiences, social determinants, and potential genetic factors that may contribute to health disparities in hypertension among different racial and ethnic groups.
Ultimately, addressing racial and ethnic disparities in hypertension requires a comprehensive approach that considers biological, genetic, social, and environmental factors. By conducting targeted research, healthcare providers and researchers can develop evidence-based strategies to reduce hypertension-related disparities and improve health outcomes for all individuals, regardless of race or ethnicity.