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Neighborhood characteristics and arterial stiffness among Black adults - Results from the Jackson Heart Study and Morehouse-Emory Cardiovascular Center for Health Equity.

Vascular Medicine 2023 January 4
INTRODUCTION: Poor quality neighborhood environments are independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) but are understudied in Black adults, who face large CVD health disparities. Arterial stiffness, a marker of early vascular aging, precedes development of hypertension and adverse CVD events but the effect of neighborhood on arterial stiffness among Black adults remains unknown.

OBJECTIVE: We compared the association between neighborhood environment and arterial stiffness among Black adults in Jackson, MS and Atlanta, GA.

METHODS: We studied 1582 Black adults (mean age 53 ± 10, 35% male) living in Jackson, MS from the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) and 451 Black adults (mean age 53 ± 10, 39% male) living in Atlanta, GA from the Morehouse-Emory Cardiovascular Center for Health Equity (MECA) study, without known CVD. Neighborhood problems (includes measures of aesthetic quality, walking environment, food access), social cohesion (includes activity with neighbors), and violence/safety were assessed using validated questionnaires. Arterial stiffness was measured as pulse wave velocity (PWV) using magnetic resonance imaging in JHS and as PWV and augmentation index (AIx) using applanation tonometry (SphygmoCor, Inc.) in MECA. Multivariable linear regression models were used to examine the association between neighborhood characteristics and arterial stiffness, adjusting for potential confounders.

RESULTS: Improved social characteristics, measured as social cohesion in JHS (β = -0.32 [-0.63, -0.02], p = 0.04) and activity with neighbors (β = -0.23 [-0.40, -0.05], p = 0.01) in MECA, were associated with lower PWV in both cohorts and lower AIx (β = -1.74 [-2.92, - 0.56], p = 0.004) in MECA, after adjustment for CVD risk factors and income. Additionally, in MECA, better food access (β = -1.18 [-2.35, - 0.01], p = 0.05) was associated with lower AIx and, in JHS, lower neighborhood problems (β = -0.33 [-0.64, - 0.02], p = 0.04) and lower violence (β = -0.30 [-0.61, 0.002], p = 0.05) were associated with lower PWV.

CONCLUSION: Neighborhood social characteristics show an independent association with the vascular health of Black adults, findings that were reproducible in two distinct American cities.

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