Racial/ethnic Disparities in Hypertension Prevalence: Reconsidering the Role of Chronic Stress

Using data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study, we investigated the association between anticipatory stress, also known as racism-related vigilance, and hypertension prevalence in Black, Hispanic, and White adults. We regressed hypertension prevalence on the interaction between race/ethnicity and vigilance in logit models and found that Blacks reported the highest vigilance levels. For Blacks, each unit increase in vigilance was associated with a 4% increase in the odds of hypertension. Hispanics showed a similar but nonsignificant association, and Whites showed no association. We conclude that vigilance may represent a significant source of chronic stress that contributes to the higher prevalence of hypertension among Blacks than Whites, and possibly to hypertension among Hispanics.