The connection between wealth and health (FCN, 06-06-2006)

LOS ANGELES ( – Hypertension among Blacks in L.A. County has steadily increased over a nine-year period, and if factors that contribute to the disease become more prevalent, the already high rate of hypertension will go higher, according to a new report by health officials.

An L.A. County Health Survey of more than 8,000 adults and 6,000 children conducted by the Department of Public Health found that Blacks continue to suffer the most from high blood pressure. The rates for Blacks increased going from 30 percent in 1997 to 37 percent in 2005. Hypertension also increased among all ethnic groups during the same period.


“The Silent Killer:Hypertension in Los Angeles County Adults” was released in the department’s L.A. Health Trends journal and indicates that countywide, hypertension rates jumped from 18 percent in 1997 to 25 percent in 2005.

Physical activity, alcohol, race and income are some determining factors for the disease.The county’s West Service Planning Area ranked the lowest among eight areas studied with 17 percent of residents suffering from hypertension, that is approximately 89,000 people.The South Central area comprised primarily of Blacks and Latinos had high pressure rates of more than 33 percent, meaning approximately 192,000 area residents suffer from high blood pressure.West L.A. is an affluent, predominantly White area, which is located approximately 15 miles from South Central.

According to Census Bureau figures, the West Side’s Beverly Hills neighborhood enjoyed a median income of more than $112,000, with Whites comprising 88 percent of the population. Blacks were a little over one percent of the population.In South Central, Blacks made up more than 73 percent of the population, compared to Whites at eight percent.Its median income was $35,000.

The study for those diagnosed with hypertension in 2005 also found:

– 37 percent were obese compared to 24 percent who were overweight, and 17 percent who were normal weight;

– 29 percent reported chronic alcohol abuse compared to 20 percent who drank more modestly;

– 27 percent reported minimal to no physical activity compared to 21 percent who participated in vigorous physical activity for at least 20 minutes, three or more days per week.

Although hypertension becomes harder to restrain in people with the above-stated risk factors, the study recommended controlling the disease through regular doctor visits and blood pressure checks, healthier eating, exercising more and consuming less alcohol and sodium.