Conference Coverage

Cardiovascular risk varies between black ethnic subgroups



– Cardiovascular disease risk factors differ significantly between three black ethnic subgroups in the United States, compared with whites, results from a large, long-term cross-sectional study show.

Dr. Diana Baptiste, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing Center for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care, Baltimore Doug Brunk/MDedge News

Dr. Diana Baptiste

“Race alone does not account for health disparities in CVD risk factors,” lead author Diana Baptiste, DNP, RN, CNE, said at the Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health meeting. “We must consider the environmental, psychosocial, and social factors that may play a larger role in CVD risk among these populations.”

Dr. Baptiste, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing Center for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care in Baltimore, noted that blacks bear a disproportionately greater burden of CVD than that of any other racial group. “Blacks living in the U.S. are not monolithic and include different ethnic subgroups: African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, defined as black persons who are born in the Caribbean islands, and African immigrants, defined as black persons who are born in Africa,” she said. “It is unclear how Afro-Caribbeans and African immigrants compare to African Americans and whites with regard to CVD risk factors.”

To examine trends in CVD risk factors among the three black ethnic subgroups compared with whites, she and her colleagues performed a cross-sectional analysis of 452,997 adults who participated in the 2010-2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Of these, 82% were white and 18% were black. Among blacks, 89% were African Americans, 6% were Afro-Caribbeans, and 5% were African immigrants. Outcomes of interest were four self-reported CVD risk factors: hypertension, diabetes, overweight/obesity, and smoking. The researchers used generalized linear models with Poisson distribution to calculate predictive probabilities of CVD risk factors, adjusted for age and sex.

Dr. Baptiste reported that African immigrants represented the youngest subgroup, with an average age of 41 years, compared with an average age of 50 among whites. They were also less likely to have health insurance (76%), compared with Afro-Caribbeans (81%), African Americans (83%), and whites (91%; P < .001). Disparities were observed in the proportion of individuals living below the poverty level. This was led by African Americans (24%), followed by African immigrants (22%), Afro-Caribbeans (18%), and whites (9%).

African immigrants were most likely to be college educated (36%), compared with whites (32%), Afro-Caribbeans (23%), and African Americans (17%; P =.001). In addition, only 33% of African Americans were married, compared with more than 50% of participants in the other ethnic groups.

African Americans had the highest prevalence of hypertension over the time period (from 44% in 2010 to 42% in 2018), while African immigrants had the lowest (from 19% to 17%). African Americans also had the highest prevalence of diabetes over the time period (from 14% to 15%), while African immigrants had the lowest (from 9% to 7%). The prevalence of overweight and obesity was highest among African Americans (from 74% to 76%), while African immigrants had the lowest (63% to 60%). Finally, smoking prevalence was highest in whites and African Americans compared with African immigrants and Afro-Caribbeans, but the prevalence decreased significantly between 2010 and 2018 (P for trend < .001).

In an interview, one of the meeting session’s moderators, Sherry-Ann Brown, MD, PhD, said that the study’s findings underscore the importance of heterogeneity when counseling patients about CVD risk factors. “Everybody comes from a different cultural background,” said Dr. Brown, a cardiologist and physician scientist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. “Cultural backgrounds have an impact on when people eat, how they eat, who they eat with, when they exercise, and whether obesity is valued or not. It’s important to recognize that those cultural underpinnings can contribute to heterogeneity. Other factors – whether they are psychosocial or socioeconomic or environmental – also contribute.”

Strengths of the study, Dr. Baptiste said, included the use of a large, nationally representative dataset. Limitations included its cross-sectional design and the National Health Interview Survey’s reliance on self-reported data. “There were also small sample sizes for African immigrants and Afro-Caribbeans,” she said.

The study was supported by Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing Center for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care. Dr. Baptiste reported having no financial disclosures.

The meeting was sponsored by the American Heart Association.

SOURCE: Baptiste D et al. EPI/Lifestyle 2020, Session 4, Abstract 8.

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