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.