Study: Black Americans in Redlining Areas Have Greater Heart Risks

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July 18, 2023 -- Black people in areas historically affected by redlining face a greater risk of heart failure than those in other areas, according to new research.

The study was published Monday in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

“We aimed to evaluate the association of redlining with the risk of (heart failure) among White and Black Medicare beneficiaries,” wrote the researchers, calling redlining “a marker of structural racism.”

Redlining is a policy that for decades denied Black people loans and insurance to buy homes and live in more desirable neighborhoods. It began in the 1930s and was banned in the late 1960s.

The researchers report that Black adults living in ZIP codes affected by redlining have an 8% greater risk of heart failure than Black people who live in areas that were not affected by redlining.

“Among Black adults living in historically redlined communities, approximately half of the excess risk of heart failure appeared to be explained by higher levels of socioeconomic distress,” the AHA said in a news release.

Black people in these neighborhoods also face higher rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, the AHA says.

Researchers looked at data for 800,000 Black Americans and 1.6 million non-Hispanic White adults. The subjects were enrolled in Medicare between 2014 and 2019 and referenced against postal ZIP codes across the country.

“Researchers analyzed data on more than 2.3 million residents who were enrolled in Medicare between 2014 and 2019 by linking it with residential ZIP codes across the US,” CNN reported. 

“The analysis included 801,452 participants who identified as Black adults and nearly 1.6 million participants who self-identified as non-Hispanic White adults. 

“Unlike Black adults, the study found that White adults living in communities with a high proportion of redlining did not have a higher risk of heart failure.”