Heart Disease among White Americans

Map for heart disease, white males


Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, causing roughly one fourth of all deaths every year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for most ethnicities including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites. For those ethnic groups that it is not the leading cause of death, heart disease is second only to cancer. Heart disease is most prevalent however in white Americans with 25.1% of deaths each year. Heart disease may be this prevalent in whites for many different reasons. Leading causes to heart disease include inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes. We can write off obesity as the reason more whites are dying of heart disease, as blacks and Hispanics have a higher rate of obesity than whites. Also surprising, is that African Americans have a higher rate of high blood pressure than white Americans. The minorities also have a higher rate of smoking and diabetes than white Americans. So why then do whites have a higher rate of heart disease than minority groups? I believe that it has something to do with stress levels and inactivity. I was unable to find any data for this, but I would imagine that the amounts that white americans are inactive is higher than the inactivity found in minority groups. I don’t think that is is any kind of genetic predisposition to heart disease, but more of a socially determined thing, with more white Americans having higher income and what might be considered an easy life style, at least as far as physically.


I believe that there is a close relationship between race, genetics, and health. Obviously genetics has control over what a persons race may be and it also can affect a person’s health in a whole multitude of ways. For instance, a person may be genetically inclined to have high blood pressure or high cholesterol which would put them at risk for heart disease. Race can also play a part in health. While there are no actual restrictions on certain races not getting medical care, there are definitely social factors that play into who has access to quality medical care or who has access to good health insurance, etc.






2 thoughts on “Heart Disease among White Americans

  1. I didn’t know that some races have higher rates of high blood pressure/cholesterol. Your evaluation of race, genetics and health was good and included almost all the points I would cover. I also would have added about how class or income levels play a role in this and is related to race. Since minorities typically have higher unemployment (except Asians), and lower income this would lead to lack of health resources that another group that has higher income and lower unemployment may have better access to. The episodes of we watched this week did a good job explaining this in several episodes.
    I don’t see racial categories as being useful in clinical studies. It’s hard to make an opinion on a topic when I’ve only seen race play out in one clinical study. From the information in the article about Bidil it seems like their test were manipulated and have several flaws. They had an agenda and did not have a proper control group. If it helps people and the pros greatly outweigh the cons then I see no reason to not be passed but since the FDA had already turned it down once I would be very skeptical about why it passed once data was manipulated.

  2. Good effort Corey – unfortunately, I think you may have misinterpreted the data about heart disease. The chart you referenced is not a prevalence chart but rather a proportion of overall deaths. Heart disease is, contrary to your post, most prevalent among African Americans and accounts for one of the major health disparities researchers are working hard to understand! With this in mind, how does your position change? What might be contributing to this disparity? It’s extremely important to be clear about this because it is a foundation of understanding the origins and persistent nature of health disparities. Be careful when reading over statistics – I know they can be hard to interpret!

    See for more information: http://www.cdc.gov/omhd/Highlights/2008/HFeb08.htm#DISPARITIES0


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