Neighborhood Affects Black Women's Hypertension Risk

Living in poor neighborhood increases risk even in women with high education and income levels

FRIDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Black women who live in poor neighborhoods have an increased risk of hypertension regardless of education, income and individual risk factors, according to a report published in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Yvette C. Cozier, D.Sc., of Boston University, and colleagues analyzed data on 59,000 black women who were aged 21 to 69 in 1995, and used U.S. census data to assess neighborhood socioeconomic status.

After surveying the women in 1997, 1999 and 2001, the researchers identified 3,780 cases of hypertension. After adjusting for individual risk factors, the investigators found that women living in neighborhoods with a low median housing value were more likely to develop hypertension than those living in neighborhoods with a high median housing value (incidence rate ratio 1.29). They also found that higher individual income and educational levels did not mitigate the effect of living in a poor neighborhood.

"Our observation that the risk of hypertension in young, lean, active, well-educated, and higher-income black women was inversely associated with median housing value suggests that hypertension risk in black women will not be reduced simply by methods that focus on individual behavior change," the authors conclude. "A greater understanding of the underlying social inequalities that adversely affect health and of the mechanisms and pathways that are amenable to intervention is required."

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