US study finds link between discrimination and high blood pressure

Adults who reported feeling discriminated against at work had a higher risk of developing hypertension

SP blood pressure
Pixabay/ Bruno/Germany

US researchers have explored the connection between experiencing discrimination at work and an individual’s risk of developing high blood pressure.

The study, which was published in Journal of the American Heart Association, found that those who reported feeling highly discriminated against at work had an increased risk of hypertension compared to those who reported low workplace discrimination.

Research carried out by the AOP as part of its 100% Respect campaign found that one in four optometrists had experienced or witnessed discrimination over the past four years.

In the latest US study by University of California researchers, those who experienced high levels of discrimination were 52% more likely to report high blood pressure during an eight-year follow-up period than those with low workplace discrimination.

Those who experienced intermediate levels of discrimination at work were 22% more likely to develop hypertension than those with low workplace discrimination.

The study involved 1246 adults who were free of high blood pressure at the start of the observation period.

Questions that were asked to determine levels of workplace discrimination included whether study participants felt they were unfairly treated, watched more closely than others or ignored more often than others.

Researchers also asked about frequency of ethnic, racial or sexual slurs or jokes at work, as well as if respondents felt job promotions were given fairly.

Lead study author, Professor Jian Li, of the University of California, shared that the study represented the first evidence indicating that workplace discrimination may increase an individual’s long-term risk of developing high blood pressure.

“Scientists have studied the associations among systemic racism, discrimination and health consequences. However, few studies have looked specifically at the health impact of discrimination in the workplace, where adults, on average, spend more than one-third of their time,” he said.