Mechanisms of Racial Health Disparities in Inflammation and Blood Pressure: A Test of the Differential Stress Exposure and Differential Stress Vulnerability Hypotheses

Uchechi Mitchell, University of California, Los Angeles
Carol S. Aneshensel, University of California, Los Angeles

Relative to non-Hispanic whites, racial minorities are particularly at risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular diseases. This study investigates the mechanisms through which group differences in exposure to and the impact of discrimination--a chronic stressor disproportionately affecting racial minorities--generate disparities in cardiovascular diseases. We specifically look at its effects on C-reactive protein (i.e., CRP), a protein produced in response to exposure to stressors that is predictive of the onset and progression of cardiovascular diseases. Initial findings suggest that racial minorities, particularly African Americans, have higher CRP levels and greater exposure to discrimination relative to non-Hispanic whites. Additionally, greater reports of discrimination is associated with higher levels of CRP. Future analyses will determine whether differential exposure to discrimination mediates race differences in CRP and the extent to which its effects are moderated by social support.

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Presented in Session 44: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health and Mortality