African Americans feeling distrust and discrimination less likely to control their blood pressure.

Hypertension left untreated can lead to heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that while 31 percent of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, the disease strikes African-Americans more often than Whites.

According to the CDC, 43 percent of African-American men and 45.7 percent of women have hypertension compared to 33.9 percent of White men and 31.3 percent of women. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) statistics show that only 28 percent of African Americans with high blood pressure have it controlled compared with 33 percent of Whites.

Therefore, it is critical for this high-risk group to control their condition to avoid serious complications. However, a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health has found that a history of racial discrimination and/or mistrust in their physicians often causes them to skip taking their meds.

“The study highlights the long-term and potentially negative effects discriminatory experiences may have on health behaviors,” said lead author Yendelela Cuffee, Ph.D., of Langone Medical Center at New York University.

The researchers used data from a study conducted in Birmingham, Alabama from 2007 to 2008 of 780 African-Americans with hypertension who were aged 53 on average. Participants were asked whether they had ever faced racial discrimination in any of seven different settings, such as at school, getting a job or seeking medical care. They were also asked about their level of trust in their doctors, based on such factors as a physician’s care about a patient’s best interest and physician competence. The group also self-reported adherence to hypertension medication.

Of the participants, 14 percent reported low adherence, 45 percent had moderate adherence and 41 percent reported high adherence. Those who reported facing racial discrimination had lower adherence, much of which was explained by lower levels of trust in their physicians. People who had greater trust in their doctors had higher adherence, as did men and older participants.

According to Cuffee, a more trusting relationship with patients might be established by providers who are culturally sensitive to the needs and experiences of their patients and are willing to have candid discussions with patients about experiences of discrimination. “Culturally sensitive providers are more likely to obtain a better understanding of the core issues that influence health behaviors and have greater success in administering treatments,” she added.

It is important for every person with hypertension to be known that there are non-drug treatments available such as RESPeRATE. FDA-approved, RESPeRATE is the first medical device that has been clinically proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. It is none-drug, non-invasive, nonprescription, and easy-to-use in the comfort of one’s home.


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