For Black Americans, Resilience Key to Heart Health
By Steven Reinberg
WEDNESDAY, October 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Black people who have a strong sense of psychological well-being may have better heart health, a new study says.
This suggests that feelings of optimism and a sense of purpose and control – hallmarks of psychosocial resilience – are more important for heart health than where people live, the researchers said.
Principal researcher Tené Lewis, associate professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, noted that differences in heart health between black and white Americans have been documented for decades. But the individual factors affecting black Americans have not been fully understood.
“Almost everything we know about black Americans and their health centers on deficits, but we really need to start identifying the strengths,” she said. “Understanding which strengths are most important to black Americans – and in which contexts – will allow us to develop the most appropriate and applicable public health interventions for this group.”
For the study, the researchers recruited nearly 400 black volunteers between the ages of 30 and 70. They investigated whether the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 metrics were linked to better heart health among them. The seven measures include smoking, physical activity, diet, weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Participants also completed standard questionnaires assessing their psychosocial health.
This information was then compared to neighborhood data on heart disease and stroke and death rates.
In neighborhoods with high rates of heart disease and stroke, black adults with higher psychosocial resilience had a 12.5% lower risk of heart disease than those who were less resilient, according to the researchers.
The results were published on October 7 in the journal Circulation: cardiovascular quality and results.
“We assumed that being high on both psychosocial resilience and living in a resilient neighborhood would be the most beneficial for cardiovascular health, but what we found was that psychosocial resilience demonstrated the strongest association. robust regardless of the neighborhood’s resilience measure, ”Lewis said in a newspaper press release.
She said more studies like this are needed to fully understand and address the factors that promote better health for black Americans.
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