Connect

Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Johns Hopkins Finds Link between ‘Hyper-Vigilance’ About Race and Blood Pressure

According to the results of new Johns Hopkins-led research, African-American patients preoccupied with race have higher blood pressure than those who are not. The findings suggest that heightened race consciousness could at least in part account for the disproportionately high rate of hypertension in black Americans – the highest prevalence of any group in the United States and one of the highest rates in the world.  “A preoccupation with race among Blacks leads to hyper-vigilance, a heightened awareness of their stigmatized status in society, and a feeling that they need to watch their backs constantly,” says Dr. Lisa A. Cooper, a professor in the division of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the study described online in the American Journal of Hypertension. “African-Americans have higher blood pressure, and it has been difficult to explain why this is true. It doesn’t appear to be genetic, and while things like diet, exercise, and reduced access to health care may contribute, we think that a tense social environment, the sense of being treated differently because of your race, could also possibly explain some of what’s behind the higher rates.”