Higher lifetime risk of sudden cardiac death among African Americans may be associated with income and education disparities

African-American grandparents reading with their grandchildren

Circulation Journal Report

African Americans – especially African American women – have a significantly higher risk of sudden cardiac death during their lifetime than whites, and much of the disparity can be attributed to income and education levels, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

“We wanted to explain the risk of sudden cardiac death and identify factors that could explain the differences,” said Eliseo Guallar, M.D., Ph.D., the lead author of the study from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We found that overall, African Americans had approximately double the lifetime risk of sudden cardiac death compared to whites. African-American women had about triple the risk compared to white women.”

Income and educational disparities were the main factors explaining the racial differences in risk, followed by hypertension and diabetes, according to the study. Income, education, hypertension, diabetes, and other cardiovascular risk factors accounted for about 65 percent of the difference.

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