Black Women's Health
More than 100 million Americans (41% of the U.S. population) have at least one cardiovascular disease (CVD; e.g., hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke). This number is projected to increase to 131 million by 2035, accounting for 45% of the U.S. population. Significant racial/ethnic and gender differences exist in CVD with African American (AA) women carrying the heaviest burden.
AA women have the highest prevalence of hypertension (41.5%) compared with White (26.5%) and Hispanic women (26.2%), and White (29.4%) and AA men (40.8%). In addition, almost 33% of all deaths among AA women are attributable to CVD,1 making it the leading cause of death for this minority group. Because of higher CVD rates, it is not surprising that AA women have higher rates of CVD risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet, compared with other racial/ethnic and gender groups.
African American maternal/infant mortality and morbidity compared to the rest of the United States (US) populations. Approximately 12.5% of births in the United States are preterm (occurring before 37 weeks of gestation). In 2018, preterm birth affected 1 of every 10 infants born in the United States. Most have low birthweight. At risk for short- and long-term health complications, such as respiratory distress, failure to thrive, and hypertension as adults. Most end up staying in the hospital and some die.
In 2017, preterm birth and low birth weight accounted for about 17% of infant deaths. There may also be emotion and financial toll on families with a preterm infant(s).
Racism is strongly correlated with preterm and low birth weight among African American women. Racism is a perceived threat formed on an immutable characteristic often central to a person’s identity” resulting in unfair treatment based physical attributes that include the color of one’s skin.
Racism as a chronic stressor is reported as a severe threat African American women’s reproductive health and well-being and spans the social ecological spectrum.
Psychosocial factors assess the combined that “psychological factors and the surrounding social environment have on their physical and mental wellness and their ability to function. Examples include: Psychosocial stress/Chronic stress; Racism, Discrimination; Social isolation/Loneliness, Depression.
Adverse risk profiles in terms of psychosocial factors seem to cluster with general social disadvantage, and so it may be a major contributing factor to health inequities. Adverse psychosocial factors is associated with increased psychosocial stress, which has significant implications for physical and mental health.
Psychosocial stress is a perception of threat, with resulting discomfort, emotional tension, and difficulty in adjustment. Possible triggers of psychosocial stress: job loss, death of love one, financial insecurity, food insecurity, experiences of racism and discrimination, work-related stress, and other adverse life events. These psychosocial triggers (or risks) can lead to a stress response in the body.
Psychosocial risks can cause long-term stress, or psychosocial stress, which has powerful effects on health. These psychosocial risks accumulate during life and increase the chances of poor mental health and premature death. Extended periods of anxiety and insecurity, and the lack of social support (social isolation) are damaging to health
Social isolation is defined as the subjective experience of lack of companionship and social support, and is associated with premature death, poor mental health, increased cardiometabolic risk, and poor maternal and child health outcomes. People with pre-existing health conditions may be prone to social isolation, and many chronic health conditions make socialization more challenging. There is strong evidence that social isolation may impose psychological stress on our minds and bodies, which has major implications on physical and mental health.
•Psychosocial risks can cause long-term stress, or psychosocial stress, which has powerful effects on health
•These psychosocial risks “accumulate during life and increase the chances of poor mental health and premature death.”
•Extended periods of anxiety and insecurity, and the lack of social support (social isolation) are damaging to health