According to new research, Hispanic adults who experience perceived discrimination have more changes in heart structure that can lead to cardiovascular disease.
In the past, scientists have discovered possible links between discrimination and cardiovascular disease, including higher blood pressure in African Americans. In the new work, the researchers wanted to see if color anomalies were more common among Hispanics in the United States who reported perceived discrimination.
The researchers examined echocardiograms of 1,818 Hispanic adults, ages 45 to 74, who lived in New York City, Chicago, Miami and San Diego. They compared the structure and function of the atrium and ventricle on the left side of the heart — which supplies most of the heart’s pumping power — to the results of an in-depth survey of perceived discrimination.
After adjusting for various risk factors, researchers found a link between perceived discrimination and increased left atrial volume index, said lead researcher Jonathan Oxman.
“It is significant because higher left ear volume has been associated with poor results such as heart attack, atrial fibrillation and stroke, “said Oxman, a fourth-year student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.” We need to look at discrimination as a stressor and a risk factor to be able to identify people who have see if we can modify the negative effects downstream. “
The research was among the first to examine the link between perceived discrimination and cardiac structure and function as measured by echocardiography, Oxman said. Presented Thursday at the American Heart Association’s virtual conference on Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health, the findings are considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Oxman said the research was limited by the relatively young age of the participants and the complex relationship between discrimination and heart health.
“We just looked at a snapshot in time, so we have to monitor for five or ten years to see if there are chronic effects of discrimination,” he said. Oxman also called for future studies to explore the best methods for detecting discrimination and reducing stress for people who suffer from it.
Dr. Monika Safford, who did not participate in the study, said that because the research was observational, it did not show that the perceived discrimination caused cardiovascular problems. Still, he called it an important study that adds to the understanding of an often neglected topic.
“Racism is not a peripheral problem for our patients, but many doctors currently don’t see it as a competition,” said Safford, co-director of the Cornell Center for Health Equity in New York City. He is also head of general internal medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
“The results raise awareness that racism can have measurable physical harm, regardless of the established risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Doctors should be especially vigilant about control (cardiovascular disease) risk factors in patients who report discrimination and racism. “
Safford said more research is needed on the physiological effects of racism and to find out what types of structural racism are particularly dangerous.
“Policy change is also very important,” he said. “It takes a long time to change your mind about your beliefs … but if we change local, regional, state and national policies, the embedded structural racism that encourages these practices can be eliminated.”
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Citation: Discrimination Can Change Cardiac Structure in Hispanic Adults (2021, May 21) Retrieved May 21, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-discrimination-heart-hispanic-adults.html
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