Stress factor effects on the morbidity of death due to hypertension: A postmortem analysis of environmental, socioeconomic and racial factors

Vijaykumar Benjamin Balraj, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This study analyzed autopsy data in order to assess the effects of environmental, socio-economic status (SES) and racial factors on the morbidity of death due to hypertension. Data were obtained from autopsy reports, provided by the Cuyahoga County Coroner's office. Subject's addresses were matched against 1990 census tract data in order to determine median family income, unemployment rates, percent poor and population density, of the neighborhoods in which the subjects lived. The data were comprised of subjects having died of hypertension from 1987–1998 (N = 2,348). There were 466 cases coded as missing. While there was no significant difference between the incidence of death due to hypertension between Blacks and Whites, Blacks were much more susceptible to the effects of stress factors (e.g. low median family income, high unemployment, high population density, and high poverty). For example, Blacks living in a neighborhoods with low median family incomes, high unemployment, high poverty rates, and high population densities are 10.9, 10.4, 8.5 and 4.6 times more likely to die of hypertension than their White counterparts, respectively. Furthermore, Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to die of hypertension before they reach the age of 50 than Whites. There is a disproportionate number of African Americans dying of hypertension each year by virtue of their race and their living conditions. The literature has shown hypertension to be a very treatable illness, therefore, the number and rate of deaths can and should be reduced. For instance Moorman, Hames, and Tyroler (1991) have shown a marked decrease in the hypertension mortality of Blacks with the Stepped Care program of antihypertensive pharmacologic therapy. In addition, research has shown that it is far more costly to treat cases of hypertensive emergency, which generally entail extensive hospital stays, than to improve the prophylaxis and management of this disease (Bennett and Shea, 1988). Further research in the areas of health care accessibility, improved quality of care, culturally sensitive health care and community planning, need to be conducted. ^

Subject Area

Black Studies|Psychology, Psychobiology|Health Sciences, Public Health|Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Vijaykumar Benjamin Balraj, "Stress factor effects on the morbidity of death due to hypertension: A postmortem analysis of environmental, socioeconomic and racial factors" (January 1, 1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI9937700.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9937700

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