Cultural Congruent Hypertension Prevention Strategies for African Americans Literature Review

Pages: 10 (2661 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Black Studies

AfAm Hypertension

Hypertension in African-Americans: Culturally Significant Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies

It is noted that there exist numerous conditions that affect different ethnic populations with greater degrees of prevalence and intensity. Hypertension is one such disorder, and African-Americans are more prone to the development of hypertension and related chronic diseases than are whites. A literature review is conducted in order to determine what if any specific prevention strategies have been developed for preventing and reducing hypertension in the African-American community. Findings suggest that while the issue has been repeatedly examined, concrete suggestions as to prevention methods and even explanations as to why the observed increase in prevalence occurs are decidedly lacking in current research.


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There are a number of health issues that affect some ethnic groups more prevalently and/or more aggressively than do others, and this has numerous medical as well as ethical implications. Giving greater attentions to specific diseases based on their prevalence and/or extremity in specific communities has definite pragmatic benefits, including a greater efficiency of care and an improved overall quality of life in these communities based on improved health outcomes, but at the same time such foci have been accused of ethnocentrism at best and outright racism at worst. Identifying ethnicity-specific diseases and prevalence rates and their possible ethnicity-specific causes has thus been a complex and delicate practice.

Literature Review on Cultural Congruent Hypertension Prevention Strategies for African Americans Assignment

In the same manner, developing community- and ethnicity-specific responses to perceived disease prevalence and methods for preventing negative health conditions that are also focused on the specifics of a given ethnicity has been somewhat troublesome from an ethical perspective. This has hindered progress in the area, and this hindrance in and of itself constitutes an ethical dilemma. One specific area of concern is the perceived prevalence of hypertension in the African-American community, which is perceived to be higher than that of many other identified ethnic groups in the United States. It has been hypothesized and demonstrated that cultural as well as genetic factors are likely responsible for this higher prevalence, but direct and explicit methods for combating risk factors and community-specific prevention strategies have not been clearly and concisely put forward. This research aims at providing the first steps towards correcting this perceived gap.


With limited time and means to conduct this research, no empirical study was possible. Current understandings of increased prevalence and risk factors for hypertension in the African-American community were thus obtained through a review of current literature on the subject. The most recent relevant articles from medical journals and publications from reliable and well-respected medical institutions were included in the search, while popular media sources and any research not ultimately based on empirical studies and direct medical findings were deemed inappropriate for the collation of trustworthy information attempted in this review.

In order to locate documents for potential inclusion in this review, several search strings were entered into the EBSCO Host Academic Search Complete electronic databse. The researcher began with a highly specific single-term string, "culturally congruent Hypertension Prevention Strategies for African-Americans," followed by he removal of the first two terms in the string. This yielded several highly relevant articles, but not a great enough abundance of literature on which to base an original review. Using the separate terms "hypertension" and "African-American" returned several more articles, some of which provided a greater amount of general information not necessarily as on-topic as would be desired. "Hypertension prevention" and "African-American" made up a final search that led to the discovery of several additional highly relevant yet broad-viewed articles that provided an excellent foundation for the specific findings of this literature review.

Literature Review

Culturally specific attention to hypertension amongst African-Americans has already been the focus of several studies, and prevention programs focused on the African-American community have also been a part of the medical community's response to this issue (Heartline 1998). The programs, however, have been primarily educational in nature, encouraging greater awareness and monitoring of hypertension amongst African-American individuals but not leading to direct medical interventions (Heartline 1998). While somewhat successful at increasing knowledge of hypertension risks, such programs do not accomplish what is truly necessary (Heartline 1998).

More direct medical interventions aimed at addressing and preventing hypertension in the African-American community have also been established, studied, and published in the literature, of course, but often these consist of the same basic recommendations made for preventing and/or combating hypertension in all cultures. The low-sodium Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, for example, has been found to be quite effective at reducing hypertension levels and achieving blood pressure goals in patients generally as well as in African-Americans specifically (Rao et al. 2007). No examination as to how adjustments to this diet might be made to better suit the African-American community and provide even greater preventative efficacy in regards to hypertension is made in this study, however, and thus this does not really constitute culturally-specific findings (Rao et al. 2007).

This does not mean that the DASH diet is an ineffective means of preventing hypertension in African-Americans, however, and in fact some preliminary research suggests that African-Americans actually derive a better-than-average health result from this intervention method due to complexities such as lactose maldigestion that also affect African-Americans in great numbers and to a greater degree (Reusser & McCarron 2006). From this research, it is clear that efforts to adjust dietary habits will necessarily form one of the foundations of any community-wide effort to reduce the prevalence of hypertensions, including in the African-American community (Reusser & McCarron 2006). Still needed, however, are specific means of adjusting this diet and educational programs to become even more effective in this community.

Greater precision in the analysis of risk factors for hypertension has been achieved in medical studies that examine the issue in ethnic comparisons rather than based solely on the examination of risks within a single ethnic community (He et al. 1999). Blood glucose levels has been associated with hypertension when appearing in abnormal levels in both whites and African-Americans, and African-Americans have been shown to be at a lightly greater risk both for abnormal glucose levels and for the development of hypertension based on glucose levels (He et al. 1999) This research demonstrates that certain risk factors can be screened for to aid in the prevention of hypertension, but again a truly community-specific screening measure and prevention strategy is lacking despite the purposeful focus of on the differences in the development of hypertensive disorders that exist between African-Americans and white individuals that these researchers take in their article (He et al. 1999).

Again, the most direct and culturally specific method for addressing and preventing hypertension in the African-American community is found in the push for increased educational efforts and awareness campaigns among this community rather than in direct medical interventions and prevention strategies (Moulton 2009). The lack of change in this regard is largely due to a lack of empirical studies involving varying prevention strategies and medical interventions specifically as they are practiced in the African-American community (Moulton 2009). While there is definitely a perceived efficacy in increasing awareness of hypertension in the African-American community, further research is needed to develop specific intervention strategies (Moulton 2009).

Guidelines have been established by the medical community for the education and intervention of hypertension in the African-American community specifically, but these interventions and prevention strategies do not actually differ significantly from those that have been identified for larger populations (Harvard 2003). It has even been suggested that the methods identified as specifically useful and effective within the African-American community could be generalized to larger communities without any real change, and that the study of separate prevention and intervention techniques is somewhat specious and unwarranted (Harvard 2003). This view is put forth at the same time that the much higher prevalence of hypertension in the African-American community is acknowledged by the authors, however, calling their conclusions in this regard highly into question (Harvard 2003).

One interesting research article suggested that due to the higher prevalence of hypertension and related chronic diseases in the African-American community, it might actually be advantageous and lead to better health outcomes to set lower and more achievable blood pressure goals in this community (Douglas et al. 2003). Defining success in such a way that it becomes more achievable to patients can provide encouragement to those individuals struggling with the preliminary stages or increased risks for hypertension, and thus can limit the progression of the disease even without achieving what have previously been defined as optimal results (Douglas et al. 2003). This shows the beginnings of some culturally-specific adjustments, but still not the development of culturally-specific prevention strategies.

Other studies have identified key culturally-specific risk factors that can be addressed as part of culturally-specific prevention strategies, though as of yet such strategies have not been successfully developed (Pekmezi et al. 2009). The reduced levels of physical activity in members of the African-American community, especially in individuals of middle and advancing age, has been cited as a definite contributing factor in the prevalence of hypertension… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Cultural Congruent Hypertension Prevention Strategies for African Americans.  (2010, December 8).  Retrieved September 27, 2020, from

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"Cultural Congruent Hypertension Prevention Strategies for African Americans."  8 December 2010.  Web.  27 September 2020. <>.

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"Cultural Congruent Hypertension Prevention Strategies for African Americans."  December 8, 2010.  Accessed September 27, 2020.