Study: Black Men Raised By Single Parents Have Higher Blood Pressure

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African-American men raised in single-parents households often have higher blood pressure than those raised by both parents, according to an American Heart Association study.

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Taking a cross-sectional sample of 515 Black males in a Howard University family study, the findings report that “Black men who lived with both parents compared with the reference group of men who never lived with both parents during their lifetime had lower systolic BP (−4.4 mm Hg [95% confidence interval {CI}, −7.84 to −0.96]), pulse pressure (−3.9 mm Hg [95% CI, −6.28 to −1.51]), and mean arterial BP (−2.0 mm Hg [95% CI, −4.44 to 0.51]).”

The benefits also improved depending on how long the males lived with both parents:

This protective effect was more pronounced among men who lived with both parents for 1 to 12 years of their lives; they had decreased systolic BP (−6.5 mm Hg [95% CI, −10.99 to −1.95]), pulse pressure (−5.4 mm Hg [95% CI, −8.48 to −2.28]), mean arterial pressure (−3.3 mm Hg [95% CI, −6.56 to 0.00]), and a 46% decreased odds of developing hypertension (odds ratio=0.54; 95% CI, 0.30 to 0.99).

Using the findings, the study concluded that “these results provide preliminary evidence that childhood family structure exerts a long-term influence on BP among Black men.”

Men in single-parent households are more likely to live in poverty, which could explain the results.

The study is another in the tangled history of African Americans and blood pressure. According to WebMD, African Americans develop high blood pressure at younger ages than other groups in the United States. They are also more likely to develop complications from elevated blood pressure, including stroke, kidney disease, and blindness.

Though genetic factors play a role in high blood pressure, researchers have attributed environmental factors as well. Black people in the United States are more likely to be overweight than Blacks in other countries. This is largely considered to be an effect of racial discrimination in hiring practices and systemic economic inequality.

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