Cardiovascular Risk Factors Should Be Addressed at All Ages

Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease remain prevalent throughout mid-life and later-life in black and white Americans, so addressing these factors remains an important goal throughout all age groups. So says a recent study that sought to examine differences in risk factors and cardiovascular incidences across the two races. Although risk factors for the conditions examined remain high among both groups, it was found that blacks in particular continue to have higher incidences of hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia (high cholesterol).

The study probed a total of 10,801 adults that were divided into the following age groups: 45-54, 55-64, 65-74, and 75+. The participants were followed for roughly ten years and monitored for incidents of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and atrial fibrillation. The findings were analyzed for both age-related and race-related differences.

The findings were as follows:


The average rate of hypertension in white men (38%), black men (48%), and black women (54%) did not show a significant age-related difference. Among white women, it was noted that incidence appeared to increase with age from 27% in the 45-54 group to about 40% in the 75+ group.

Diabetes Mellitus

Incidence of diabetes was found to decrease with age for white men (15% in 45-54 and 8% at 75+), black men (29% and 13% respectively), and white women (11% and 4% respectively). Among black women, no age-related difference was found and their average rate was 11% across all groups.


The rates of dyslipidemia seemed to change with age but not with race or gender. Across all groups, the incidence rate was about 20% for the 45-54 group, 30% for the 55-64 and 65-74 groups, and about 22% at 75+.

Atrial Fibrillation

The rate of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm, was fairly low in the 45-54 group at under 5%. This had a strong age-related component, since at the age 75+ end the rate became roughly 20% for whites and 11% for blacks of both genders. Of note to the researchers was that this was the one condition in which blacks across the entire age spectrum experienced less frequently than whites.

Bottom Line

All four conditions showed distinct prevalence among more elderly populations even with race-related differences. Since all of these ailments can affect lifespan and quality of life, it was concluded that risk factors should be addressed at all ages regardless of race, though it was noted that blacks had a particular vulnerability to three of the conditions.

Howard, G., et. al., “Racial Differences in the Incidence of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Older Black and White Adults,” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2016; 10.1111/jgs.14472.

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