Background: Life expectancy is shorter and mortality from cardiovascular disease higher among blacks than among whites in the United States. We studied whether place of birth was associated with mortality from cardiovascular causes among non-Hispanic black and white residents of New York City.
Methods: We linked mortality records from 1988 through 1992 with 1990 U.S. census data for New York City. Mortality data for blacks born in the U.S. South and Northeast and in the Caribbean were compared with those for whites born in the Northeast.
Results: Among blacks, the rates of overall mortality and mortality from cardiovascular causes exceeded those among whites. Among persons born in the Northeast, the rates of death from cardiovascular disease for white men (285 per 100,000), as compared with black men (299), and for white women (155), as compared with black women (165), were similar. However, Southern-born black men and women both had mortality from cardiovascular disease that was substantially higher than that of their counterparts born in the Northeast, and Caribbean-born blacks had rates substantially lower than their Northeastern-born counterparts. The differences among the groups in the rates of death from coronary heart disease were greater than those for death due to stroke or hypertension. In each category defined by age and sex, Caribbean-born blacks had significantly lower rates of death from coronary heart disease than did whites. Black men who were 25 to 44 years of age and were born in the South had a rate of death from coronary heart disease that was 30 percent higher than that of Northeastern-born blacks, and four times that of Caribbean-born blacks of the same sex and age.
Conclusions: The higher rate of mortality from cardiovascular causes among blacks, as compared with whites, in New York City masks substantial variation among blacks based on their place of birth.