Everyday Discrimination Prospectively Predicts Blood Pressure Across 10 Years in Racially/Ethnically Diverse Midlife Women: Study of Women's Health Across the Nation

Ann Behav Med. 2019 Jun 4;53(7):608-620. doi: 10.1093/abm/kay069.


Background: Interpersonal discrimination is linked to greater risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and this association varies by race/ethnicity.

Purpose: To examine whether exposure to everyday discrimination prospectively predicts elevated blood pressure (BP), whether this association differs by race/ethnicity, and is mediated by adiposity indices.

Methods: Using data for 2,180 self-identified White, Black, Chinese, Japanese, and Hispanic participants from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, we examined associations among exposure to (higher vs. lower) everyday discrimination at baseline and BP and hypertension (HTN; systolic blood pressure [SBP] ≥ 140 mmHg; diastolic blood pressure [DBP] ≥ 90 mmHg; or self-reported HTN medication use) risk over a 10 year period. Additionally, we used the bootstrap method to assess repeated, time-varying markers of central and overall adiposity (waist circumference and body mass index [BMI] (kg/m2), respectively) as potential mediators.

Results: Exposure to everyday discrimination predicted increases in SBP and DBP over time, even after adjusting for known demographic, behavioral, or medical risk factors. However, greater waist circumference or BMI (examined separately) mediated these observations. Notably, there were no racial/ethnic differences in the observed association and HTN risk was not predicted.

Conclusions: The current findings suggest that everyday discrimination may contribute to elevated BP over time in U.S. women, in part, through increased adiposity. These findings demonstrate the complexity of the linkage of discrimination to CVD risk and raise the need to closely examine biobehavioral pathways that may serve as potential mediators.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Body mass index; Everyday discrimination; Longitudinal; Racial/ethnic diversity; Waist circumference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / ethnology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Racism / ethnology
  • Social Discrimination / ethnology*
  • United States / ethnology
  • Waist Circumference*