Uncontrolled blood pressure poses a significant threat to individuals’ health, often leading to cardiovascular diseases and related fatalities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately half of adults in the United States with uncontrolled hypertension have a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher.
The Impact of Social Determinants on Hypertension
Hypertension tends to affect men disproportionately, with a particular emphasis on Black men compared to their white counterparts. A recent study published in Hypertension sheds light on the role of social determinants in exacerbating uncontrolled blood pressure among Black adults in comparison to their white counterparts. The study reveals that factors such as low education, low income, residing in areas with limited access to healthcare professionals, disadvantaged neighborhoods, and high-poverty ZIP codes contribute significantly to the increased likelihood of uncontrolled blood pressure among Black adults.
Unveiling the Significance of Social Determinants
Philip Akinyelure, M.D., a postdoctoral student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and the principal investigator of the study, emphasizes the importance of these findings. Understanding how social determinants of health impact Black adults with uncontrolled blood pressure can provide valuable insights for implementing interventions that improve blood pressure control and reduce cardiovascular disease.
Addressing Disparities and Saving Lives
Akinyelure asserts that the interventions aimed at preventing uncontrolled blood pressure within the Black population also hold the potential to address the estimated 8,000 excess cardiovascular disease deaths among Black adults each year, as these two health issues are closely interconnected.
To achieve meaningful change, Akinyelure calls for policies that dismantle systemic racism and tackle social determinants of health at the federal, state, and local levels. Additionally, widespread implementation of social interventions that have demonstrated promising results in improving controlled blood pressure among Black adults can significantly reduce disparities. To facilitate this process, it is crucial to enhance the collection of data on social determinants of health in clinics and population-based studies. Furthermore, healthcare providers should prioritize gathering and evaluating the social determinants of health for patients and connect socially disadvantaged individuals to the available community resources.
Insights from the REGARDS Study
The study draws its data from the ongoing national cohort study known as REGARDS, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. This comprehensive study aims to uncover the reasons behind the higher rates of stroke and brain health-related diseases among Southerners and Black Americans.
In conclusion, recognizing the influence of social determinants of health on uncontrolled blood pressure is crucial in developing effective interventions. By addressing the root causes of disparities, implementing social interventions, and prioritizing data collection and analysis, we can make significant strides in preventing uncontrolled blood pressure and reducing cardiovascular disease deaths. It is time to take action and improve the health outcomes of individuals affected by these pressing issues.