Perceived Discrimination Linked to Black Veterans’ Heart Issues

A new study has found that perceived discrimination was associated with risk of severe coronary obstruction among black male veterans, and the researchers recommend that factor be considered in screening and treating patients at the VA.

The research, conducted at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and VAMCs in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Boston, found that perceived discrimination was “positively related to risk of severe obstruction among blacks, but not among whites, after controlling for clinical and psychosocial variables.” Patients who underwent coronary angiography showed similar results, the authors wrote.

Researchers used data from 793 male veterans with positive nuclear imaging studies — 629 white and 164 black. Based on the nuclear imaging results, patients in the study group were categorized as either low-to-moderate or high risk for severe coronary obstruction. Hierarchical logistic regression models were tested separately for blacks and whites, with the first step of the models including clinical factors, the second step including the psychosocial variables of optimism, religiosity, negative affect and social support, and the final step including perceived discrimination.

In this study of male veterans with abnormal nuclear imaging studies, we found that, among black men, greater perceptions of racial discrimination were related to increased risk for severe coronary obstruction and to angiographic coronary obstruction after controlling for clinical and psychosocial factors that are related to cardiovascular health,” the authors wrote.

Perceived discrimination “could be an important target for future interventions,” they added.

1. Ayotte BJ, Hausmann LR, Whittle J, Kressin NR. The relationship between
perceived discrimination and coronary artery obstruction. Am Heart J. 2012
Apr;163(4):677-83. PubMed PMID: 22520534.

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