EHR Data Reveal Striking Racial, Ethnic Disparities in Hypertension


When investigators for Kaiser Permanente’s research arm wanted to examine what is driving racial and ethnic differences in hypertension rates, they turned to the institution’s sprawling supply of electronic health records (EHR). There, they combed through data from more than 4 million patients, aiming to explore the prevalence of the condition among and racially, ethnically, and regionally diverse group, and whether it varied by weight and neighborhood education.

What researchers found: People who are African American, American Indian or native Alaskan, Asian, native Hawaiian, or from another Pacific Islander background are much more likely to develop hypertension than people who are white or Hispanic—even if they live in neighborhoods with similar education levels or are in the same weight category, according to the resultant study, published in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension.

African Americans, native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders were 2 times more likely than whites to develop the condition, a finding that remained consistent across nearly all weight categories and all community education levels, according to the study. Asians, meanwhile, saw 50% greater odds of dealing with high blood pressure than whites of the same weight.