W2 Reflection: Heart Disease in White Males


The relationship between race, genetics, and health is both positive and negative throughout the world and especially in the United States. In the United Sates, the social construct of race has created different socioeconomic classes that can used as a pretty accurate indicator of ones health. This can be positive or negative depending on whether you belong to a minority or not. Genetics are tied in with health giving you advantageous genes in some cases and others not. For example in terms of race determining health, in the United States African Americans are more prone to kidney failure than any other race. Unfortunately, in the US as brought on by the projects, African Americans are more likely to be in food deserts that don’t allow for proper nutrition. This leads to obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, the three leading causes of kidney failure in the US. Another example to show the relationship of genes and health would be Sickle Cell Anemia in African Americans. This is some ways is advantageous in the fact you are immune to malaria if you have a single gene carrying the disease. On the flip side your health is greatly impacted if you receive both genes, resulting in the manifestation of the disease.

The health disparity I chose to highlight is heart disease among white males. In the United States, white males have a higher chance than anyone to develop heart disease at some point in their life. There are many things that I would attribute this to. Stress, obesity, lack of a proper diet and exercise are all things that can lead to heart disease. I think that the foundation of American culture which requires a long work week could be the culprit. This is an economic factor that is directly impacting the health of white males. Working a 40 plus hour work week could cause stress, lack of time to eat right, and most importantly no exercise. Since White males are a large percentage of the population, they are going to have a high percentage of people affected by this problem.


Women’s Health USA. “Heart Disease and Stroke.” , Women’s Health USA 2011. http://mchb.hrsa.gov/whusa11/hstat/hshi/pages/213hds.html (accessed July 13, 2016)

2 thoughts on “W2 Reflection: Heart Disease in White Males

  1. I am not sure how to make sense of the fact that cornary heart disease is so prevalent among white men. It’s hard to say that it is the work week or lack of exercise given that other ethnic groups have similar attributes, if they are not more pronounced. I am also not quite sure how much of it is genetic. It seems odd that the rate is so high, in fact. i would have figured black men had the highest incidence of coronary heart disease given the social reality.

    Race is certainly a useful way of approaching clinical studies seeking to gain a better understanding of these trends. Heart disease, a condition with a large environmental component offers a chance for race to be a factor in the higher incidence for white men, either directly or through its connection to SES. I’ skeptical about genetic links to explain the phenomenon, but perhaps they could be researched as well. It would be nice to see more data on this. Like how long this has been the case. It might also be interesting to see how this breakd down across different age ranges. For instance, perhaps black men don’t experience an incidence of heart disease quite as high because they are less likely to live into old age.

  2. I think that using race and ethnic groups in health is important. You explained it well that is can be seen as both a positive and negative. But it is undeniable that the genes you get from your ancestors have a large effect on a single person. Genetics play a massive role in a person’s chance of contracting a specific disease later and life and obviously more so contracting a genetic one. As for the health disparity you chose. I do agree that stress, obesity, lack of proper diet and exercise are all important risk factors for heart disease I’m not sure about your long work week assumption. In the United `States we work an annual average of 1,788 hours. Compare that to Mexico that work 2,237 or South Korea at 2,163, or the 9 other countries studied from around the world that work more than the United States. If working long hours was a leading cause in heart disease, then we probably would see any disparity among populations since there are countries around the world that work just as much or more than the United States. While it could be a contributing factor due to stress there must be a better explanation that a long work week. The number I presented are from a study done by Forbes.

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