Racial discrimination is associated with greater arterial stiffness and carotid intima-media thickness: the ELSA-Brasil study

Ann Epidemiol. 2022 Aug:72:40-47. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2022.03.009. Epub 2022 Mar 26.


Purpose: The association between racial discrimination and subclinical cardiovascular markers remains under-examined. We aimed to investigate the association of race/skin color and racial discrimination with pulse wave velocity (PWV) and carotid intima-media thickness (c-IMT) in the Brazilian context.

Methods: We used data from 13,284 participants from the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) baseline with information of PWV and 9850 for c-IMT. Self-reported race/skin color and perceived racial discrimination were the exposures. PWV and c-IMT were used continuously and categorizing according to cutoff that indicates increased cardiovascular risk. Linear and logistic regression models were used.

Results: Experience of racial discrimination was reported by 7% of total participants, but this prevalence was much higher among Blacks than Browns (PWV sample: 31,9% vs. 6,1%; c-IMT sample: 33,7% vs. 6,8%). After adjustments for age, sex, and research center, Blacks and Browns presented higher means of PWV and c-IMT and had greater chances of PWV>10 m/s and c-IMT≥75th percentile than Whites. The magnitude of all these associations were higher among Blacks and Browns with racial discrimination. In final models adjusted for education this pattern of association remained the same, although an attenuation in the magnitude of the association has been observed.

Conclusions: Blacks and Browns presented worse profiles of subclinical cardiovascular markers compared to Whites and those exposed to racial discrimination seem to have an additional cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: Arterial Stiffness; Carotid intima-media thickness; Cohort Studies; ELSA-Brasil; Pulse wave velocity; Racial discrimination; Racial inequalities in health; Racism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Racism*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Stiffness*