Racial/ethnic disparities in coronary heart disease risk factors among WISEWOMAN enrollees

Eric A Finkelstein, Olga A Khavjou, Lee R Mobley, Dawn M Haney, Julie C Will
Journal of Women's Health 2004, 13 (5): 503-18

BACKGROUND: We used the baseline data collected for the Well-integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation (WISEWOMAN) participants to provide a snapshot of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk on enrollment and to address racial/ethnic disparities in the following CVD risk factors: body mass index (BMI), systolic and diastolic blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and total cholesterol, diabetes and smoking prevalence, 10-year coronary heart disease (CHD) risk, and treatment and awareness of high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes.

METHODS: We used linear regression analysis to (1) assess the presence of racial/ethnic disparities and test whether existing disparities can be explained by (2) differences in individual characteristics or by (3) differences in individual and community characteristics.

RESULTS: Our results reveal a high degree of CVD risk among the WISEWOMAN participants and statistically significant racial/ethnic disparities in risk factors. Black participants were at the greatest risk of CVD, and Hispanic and Alaska Native participants were healthier in terms of CVD risk than white participants. Some racial/ethnic disparities were explained by differences in individual and community characteristics, but other disparities persisted even after controlling for these factors.

CONCLUSIONS: Because differences in community characteristics explain many of the racial/ethnic disparities in CVD risk factors, eliminating disparities may require community-wide interventions. Successful WISEWOMAN projects are likely to not only reduce CVD risk factors overall but also to lessen racial/ethnic disparities in these risk factors.

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