A recent study reported in the May issue of JAMA Internal Medicine offered proof that segregated neighborhoods can affect health. The study focused on blood pressure among African-Americans, who suffer the highest rates of hypertension of any group in the United States. The results explained that living in a racially segregated neighborhood can actually increase blood pressure.
How it can happen
One reason is given by David Goff, M.D., director of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). He states that living in segregated neighborhoods where there is often "inadequate access to health-promoting resources" can cause an increase in stress, and an increase in blood pressure. He includes full service grocery stores, recreation centers, and health care clinics as health-promoting resources.
The study included 2,280 blacks aged 18-30 over a 25-year period. The results showed that blood pressure increased among participants living in neighborhoods that were more segregated, while significant improvements were experienced by those who initially lived in a highly segregated neighborhood and moved to a less segregated one.
Understanding health equity
Study researchers say this information is very helpful in understanding health equity, and could also help reduce racial health disparities. It is the first study to explore whether increases or decreases in residential segregation specifically affect blood pressure.
For more details about the study, visit www.jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2626858
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