Diabetes and Hypertension Among African Americans


The graph above shows the age adjusted prevalence of diagnosed or undiagnosed hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes in adults by race ethnicity. There is a large gap between African Americans and Caucasians within the diagnosis of all of these diseases. With diabetes, 8.3% of whites are diagnosed vs. a 14.6% diagnosis of blacks. Hypertension has a similar difference in percentages with whites at 29.1 % and blacks at 42.5%.

The relationship between race, genetics and health is a very complicated one. We live in a society that uses race, genetics, health, and even religion to determine how, when, and why a person should be treated; physically, mentally, or emotionally. One example that stood out to me from this week’s lectures was the pharmaceutical Bidil. It is geared towards African Americans with hypertension. The company claimed that the drug was more effective in “black populations” than non black populations. I think that the company was insensitive to other races because it is not like Hispanics, Asians, or Caucasians cannot suffer from hypertension and need help to get rid of it too. A good point that was made in the lecture also was the fact that race cannot be genetically proven; it is basically a self identification factor. So, how could the company say something like that?

I chose diabetes because not too long ago, someone close to me was diagnosed with this illness. I also had knowledge of it being very prevalent in the African American population, more than others. There was a study done on the association between high blood pressure (which is also prevalent in the African American community) and type two diabetes among blacks and whites ages 35-54. The results of this study showed that overall, 14.6 African Americans and 7.9% of whites developed diabetes. Personally, I think that a lot of the problems of developing diabetes and high blood pressure comes from diet and exercise. Speaking from experience and just the background of my family, healthy eating wasn’t always a priority. And I think this is common in most African Americans homes which can lead to many health problems in old age, including diabetes. It’s just really important to be more informed about healthy eating and staying fit.


American Diabetes Association. “Blood Pressure and the Risk of Developing Diabetes in African Americans and Whites ARIC, CARDIA, and the Framingham Heart Study” http://care.diabetesjournals.org.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/content/34/4/873 (assessed July 10, 214)

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Megan Bergeron says:

    I agree that the relationship between race, genetics and health is a very complicated one. All three of these things are intertwined. I also agree that there are a variety of factors that influence how people are treated medically. I found it interesting that you included religion as one of these factors. This is not a factor that I included in my post. I believe that the company that makes Bidil is not being insensitive to other races when they say that their drug is more effective in African American populations than others. I think that they are simply stating that their drug will be more helpful to this specific group of people. That does not necessarily mean that other races will not benefit from this drug. There are also numerous other drugs used to treat hypertension.

    I think that racial categories are helpful in clinical studies, because certain groups of people are more likely to have certain illnesses, or respond to treatments differently. Having knowledge of these things will lead to better, more reliable results. I think that the best way to think about racialized health disparities is either in terms of evolution. Certain races do not have differences in health because of their race.

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