Discover why black women are twice as likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure and how food insecurity and racism impact their health outcomes.
- Black women are twice as likely to have uncontrolled high blood pressure between ages 20 and 50.
- Food insecurity and lack of access to healthy foods are major barriers to managing blood pressure for Black women.
- Racism and other social factors may also contribute to the disparities in blood pressure control and pregnancy outcomes.
As per the latest data from the American Heart Association, black women between the ages of 20 and 50 years old are twice as likely as white women to have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
This can be extremely dangerous, especially during pregnancy, as it increases the risk of potentially fatal complications.
In this article, we’ll explore why black women are at a higher risk of uncontrolled high blood pressure and what steps can be taken to manage this condition.
What Is Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure or hypertension is a medical condition in which the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries is consistently too high.
It is also known as the “silent killer” because it can damage your body for years before symptoms develop.
When blood pressure remains consistently high and is not managed effectively, it leads to uncontrolled high blood pressure.
This condition can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems.
Black Women And High Blood Pressure
According to the latest research, black women are at a higher risk of uncontrolled high blood pressure.
The study analyzed data from 1,293 women aged between 20 to 50 years old, and the results showed that 38% of black women had uncontrolled high blood pressure, compared to 25% of white women.
One of the reasons for this disparity is food insecurity.
Many lower-cost food options, such as canned, ultra-processed, and fast foods, have higher sodium levels.
Black women, in particular, face barriers in accessing healthy foods, with 25% reporting difficulties in obtaining them.
“Moreover, food insecurity and a lack of access to healthy foods have been shown in other studies to increase the risk of high blood pressure,” says study author Lara C. Kovell, MD.
Pregnancy And High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to potentially fatal complications.
Black women are at an elevated risk of these complications, including pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, such as preeclampsia.
The study analyzed women of child-bearing age to better understand why there are differing blood pressure-related health risks during pregnancy based on someone’s race or ethnicity.
The authors called high blood pressure “one of the most important and modifiable risk factors for pregnancy‐related morbidity and mortality in addition to lifetime cardiovascular disease.”
Factors Affecting Blood Pressure Control
Researchers analyzed study participants’ likelihood of having uncontrolled high blood pressure related to various factors such as education level, income, food security, home ownership, language, access to health insurance, and medical care.
The study found that factors such as education level and health insurance did not explain racial inequity in maternal outcomes.
Instead, factors such as experienced racism, social supports, or stress may drive these inequities.
Managing High Blood Pressure
Managing high blood pressure can reduce the risk of serious health problems.
Diet changes and healthy eating habits are one of the top ways to manage high blood pressure.
Black women, however, face barriers in accessing healthy foods.
Other ways to manage high blood pressure include regular exercise, reducing salt intake, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Black women are at a higher risk of uncontrolled high blood pressure, which can lead to serious health problems, especially during pregnancy.
Factors such as food insecurity, experienced racism, social supports, or stress may drive these inequities.
To manage high blood pressure, a healthy lifestyle is necessary, but access to healthy foods can be a challenge.
We need to work towards eliminating these barriers and improving health equity for all women.
American Heart Association: “Black women of childbearing age more likely to have high blood pressure, raising pregnancy risks.”
Journal of the American Heart Association: “Social Determinants, Blood Pressure Control, and Racial Inequities in Childbearing Age Women With Hypertension, 2001 to 2018.”