National Heart Month – African American Adults Have Among the Highest Prevalence of Hypertension in the World

February 15, 2017

African American Adults are at Least 50 Percent More Likely to Die of Heart Disease or Stroke Prematurely

David C. Goff, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Division of Cardiovascular Sciences

(Bethesda, MD, Wednesday, February 15, 2017) – In the United States, coronary heart disease (CHD)—the most common type of heart disease—is the leading cause of death for both men and women. For 50 years the United States has seen a dramatic decline in deaths related to heart disease, thanks to research that has advanced prevention and treatment options.  But, last year, the number of Americans dying of heart disease increased for the first time in more than a decade.

Even though awareness of heart disease among U.S. women has nearly doubled in the last 15 years, more needs to be done in moving beyond awareness to taking action to prevent and treat heart disease. African American adults, both men and women, are at least 50 percent more likely to die of heart disease or stroke prematurely (i.e., before age 75) than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.

African American-focused Data:

  • Some 85 percent of midlife (ages 40 to 60) African American women are overweight or obese, 52 percent have hypertension, and 15 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Non-Hispanic African American adults are at least 50 percent more likely to die of heart disease or stroke prematurely (i.e., before age 75) than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.
  • A study showed that a higher percentage of African American women (38 percent) than white women (19 percent) died before age 75 as a result of coronary heart disease, as did African American men (62 percent) compared to white men (42 percent).
  • A study showed that a higher percentage of African American women (39 percent) died of stroke before age 75 compared to white women (17 percent), as did African American men (61 percent) compared to white men (31 percent).
  • African American adults have among the highest prevalence of hypertension in the world. Among non-Hispanic African American men and women, the age-adjusted prevalence of hypertension was 45 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

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