Cardiovascular Risk in Midlife African American Women Participating in a Lifestyle Physical Activity Program

J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2016 Jul-Aug;31(4):304-12. doi: 10.1097/JCN.0000000000000266.


Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the largest contributor to disparate morbidity and mortality in African American women.

Objective: The aims of this article are to describe in a cohort of sedentary, urban community-based midlife African American women eligible for a physical activity program their (1) CVD risk factors and (2) awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.

Methods: Cross-sectional baseline findings on 297 women were examined at baseline of a controlled physical activity clinical trial. Cardiovascular disease risks included hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, diabetes, and obesity. Among women with hypertension and hypercholesterolemia, rates of awareness, treatment, and control were calculated.

Results: Our sample had significantly more hypertension and obesity than reported in other national samples of African American women. The women mirrored national samples of African American women: fewer than 60% had adequate control of hypertension. Versus national samples of African Americans (men/women combined), our study groups both showed significantly lower low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol level: treatment, 33% versus 63.8%, and control, 24.8% versus 45.3%.

Conclusions: Because national samples are more heterogeneous, our sample provides important information about CVD risks in inactive, urban community-dwelling, midlife African American women. Given the opportunity, many such women at elevated risk for CVD are willing to participate in a physical activity intervention. They must be identified and offered pharmacological and lifestyle interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Black or African American*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension
  • Life Style*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity
  • Risk Factors*
  • United States