Workplace Discrimination May Increase Risk of Blood Pressure, Study Shows

In Education

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association discovered a connection between workplace discrimination and heart health. The study revealed that individuals who experienced high levels of discrimination at work were at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure than those who experienced low workplace discrimination. Workplace discrimination encompasses unfavourable conditions or unfair treatment based on individual characteristics like age, race, or sex.

Discrimination negatively affects health

According to sociologist David R. Williams, discrimination can negatively impact our health. The stress caused by daily instances of discrimination is often overlooked in traditional stress assessments. However, various studies have shown that experiencing discrimination can increase the risk of developing conditions associated with heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, type II diabetes and obesity.

The study on workplace discrimination involved 1,246 adults from various occupations and education levels. The participants were evenly split between men and women, mostly white, middle-aged, and married. They were generally nonsmokers, consumed low to moderate amounts of alcohol, and engaged in moderate to high levels of exercise. None of them had high blood pressure at the start of the study.

Researchers examined how discrimination affects individuals in the workplace and its impact on blood pressure. It found that workplace discrimination can increase blood pressure. After approximately eight years, around 26% of participants reported developing high blood pressure. Individuals with intermediate or high discrimination scores were 22% and 54% more likely to report high blood pressure.

How discrimination causes blood pressure

The impact of discrimination on blood pressure can be explained through the body’s response to emotional stress. Discrimination can lead to the activation of the fight-or-flight response, releasing hormones that increase heart rate and narrow blood vessels. This temporary physiological reaction causes a rise in blood pressure.

However, if individual experiences repeated stress from discrimination, their blood pressure may remain consistently high. Discrimination can be based on various factors such as race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Regardless of the specific attribution, the effects of discrimination on health, including blood pressure, are similar.

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