Premature Death Due To Heart Disease And Stroke Takes Much Larger Toll On Black Women

November 09, 1998

DALLAS, Nov. 9 -- Black women face a four-times higher risk of dying before age 60 of either heart disease or stroke than white women, according to one of the largest studies of its kind presented today at the American Heart Association's 71st Scientific Sessions.

"These differences were striking," says Lori Mosca, M.D., Ph.D., director of preventive cardiology research and education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Black women who were under age 60 at the time of entry into the study had about a 4.1 times higher risk of dying from heart disease and stroke compared to white women, a difference that persisted over three decades. After adjusting their data to consider differences in the level of education, which is also a strong predictor of early death, the risk fell only slightly.

The study called the Women's Pooling Project -- combining nine investigations that spanned three decades -- included 16,018 white women, 3,655 black women, 1,219 Hispanic women and 91 women of other races and ethnic groups. Women with high blood pressure -- defined as systolic blood pressure (top number) above 140 millimeters/mercury (mm/Hg), diastolic pressure (bottom number) above 89 mm/Hg or those taking medication for the condition -- had five times the risk of dying early from heart disease as did women with normal blood pressure. Women with diabetes had almost five times the risk of non-diabetics. Being obese more than doubled a woman's risk of early death from heart disease and stroke. Smoking and blood cholesterol levels in the top 20 percent for her age group also doubled the risk.

Mosca says that this study emphasizes the need for more widespread screening for risk factors and better treatment of heart disease.

"The No. 1 implication of this study is that risk factors for premature death can be easily identified," says Mosca. "This study shows that a top priority should be blood pressure control and other major priorities should be diabetes control, weight, and blood cholesterol levels, avoiding smoking and increasing physical activity. "We need to understand what factors cause black women to be at such an increased risk for premature death due to heart disease and stroke and why the gap has not improved in 30 years," she says.

Even though risk of dying differed among the races and ethnic groups, researchers found that risk factors for heart disease and stroke were similar between the groups. However, black women have a greater number of risk factors compared to white women and also have a higher risk of death associated with risk factors.

Researchers noticed some strong trends in Hispanic women, but are unable to make any conclusions because most of the women in this group were not enrolled in studies until the 1980s. The limited information on Hispanic women underscores the need for more and better research among disease populations of women, says Mosca.

"This study of nearly 21,000 women is unique because it is the first of its kind to have enough statistical power to look at risk factors for premature death in women, particularly minority women," she says.

The project has combined most of the long-term community-based studies of heart disease in the United States that followed women for at least eight years. Because death from heart disease before age 60 is not common in women, data from thousands of women must be collected to obtain definitive results.

"A single study may not have enough women to look at premature death due to heart disease in women," says Mosca. "So we took advantage of combining information from several existing studies that have followed women up to 30 years. This also allowed us to make ethnic and racial comparisons that might not otherwise be possible in a single study or in a specific geographic area."

Co-authors include Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, M.D.; Ralph B. D'Agostino Sr., Ph.D.; Curtis Hames, M.D.; Victor Hawthorne, M.D.; William B. Kannel, M.D.; Julian Kiel, Dr.P.H.; Braxton Mitchell, Ph.D.; Susan E. Sutherland, Ph.D.; Herman A. Tyroler, M.D.; Moyses Szklo, M.D.; and Millicent Higgens, M.D.
For more information Nov. 8-11
contact Darcy Spitz or Carole Bullock
Dallas County Convention Ctr.
(214) 853-8056

American Heart Association

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to