Redlining Linked to Higher Heart Failure Risk for Black Adults, Study Finds

Study Shows Higher Risk of Heart Failure for Black Adults in Communities Historically Impacted by Redlining

A recent study published in the American Heart Association’s scientific journal Circulation reveals that Black adults living in zip codes that were historically impacted by redlining are at an 8% higher risk of developing heart failure compared to Black adults in non-redlined areas. Redlining, a racist lending practice that denied loans and insurance to people of color seeking homes outside undesirable areas in cities, was prevalent in the US from the 1930s until it was eventually banned in the late 1960s. The study suggests that the disproportionate risk of heart failure among Black adults in these communities is partly due to higher levels of socioeconomic distress.

The researchers analyzed data from over 2.3 million residents enrolled in Medicare between 2014 and 2019, linking it with residential ZIP codes across the United States. Of the participants, 801,452 identified as Black adults, while nearly 1.6 million self-identified as non-Hispanic White adults. The analysis found that White adults living in communities with a high proportion of redlining did not have a higher risk of heart failure, unlike their Black counterparts.

Previous research by the American Heart Association has also highlighted the increased risk of other ailments, including hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, that disproportionately affect Black residents in these historically redlined neighborhoods. This study provides further insight into how discriminatory housing policies of the past continue to impact the health of marginalized communities.

Dr. Shreya Rao, a cardiologist and assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and co-author of the study, noted that the findings underscore the long-term consequences of discriminatory and racist housing policies on cardiovascular health disparities. The harm caused by these policies extends across generations of Black adults, highlighting the need for addressing the persistent impact of historical injustices.

Dr. Ambarish Pandey, another co-author and an assistant professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center, emphasized the significance of the study’s findings. He stated that the research demonstrates the detrimental effects of discriminatory housing policies and highlights the need to address cardiovascular health disparities resulting from these policies.

While the study provides vital insights into the link between historical redlining practices and heart failure risk among Black adults, it also raises questions about the broader impact of systemic racism on public health. The findings shed light on the ongoing socioeconomic disparities faced by marginalized communities and emphasize the importance of addressing structural inequalities to promote better health outcomes for all.

The study findings highlight the urgent need for targeted interventions and policy changes to address the healthcare disparities faced by Black communities. By dismantling the legacy of redlining and implementing equitable housing policies, steps can be taken to mitigate the long-term impact on cardiovascular health and create healthier, more inclusive communities. Achieving health equity requires a comprehensive approach that tackles the root causes of disparities and ensures equal access to quality healthcare and resources for all individuals, regardless of their ZIP code.