Stress interventions and hypertension in Black women

Jolaade Kalinowski, Kiran Kaur, Valerie Newsome-Garcia, Aisha Langford, Ayoola Kalejaiye, Dorice Vieira, Chigozirim Izeogu, Judite Blanc, Jacquelyn Taylor, Olugbenga Ogedegbe, Tanya Spruill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Black women have high rates of hypertension compared to women of other racial or ethnic groups and are disproportionately affected by psychosocial stressors such as racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and caregiving stress. Evidence suggests that stress is associated with incident hypertension and hypertension risk. Stress management is associated with improvements improved blood pressure outcomes. The purpose of this review is to synthesize evidence on effects of stress management interventions on blood pressure in Black women. A comprehensive search of scientific databases was conducted. Inclusion criteria included studies that were: (1) primary research that tested an intervention; (2) in the English language; (3) included African-American women; (4) incorporated stress in the intervention; (5) included blood pressure as an outcome; and (6) were US based. Eighteen studies met inclusion criteria. Ten (56%) studies tested meditation-based interventions, two (11%) tested coping and affirmation interventions, and six (33%) tested lifestyle modification interventions that included stress management content. Thirteen of the studies were randomized controlled trials. Reductions in blood pressure were observed in all of the meditation-based interventions, although the magnitude and statistical significance varied. Comprehensive lifestyle interventions were also efficacious for reducing blood pressure, although the relative contribution of stress management versus behavior modification could not be evaluated. Coping and affirmation interventions did not affect blood pressure. Most of the reviewed studies included small numbers of Black women and did not stratify results by race and gender, so effects remain unclear. This review highlights the urgent need for studies specifically focusing on Black women. Given the extensive disparities in cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality, whether stress management can lower blood pressure and improve primary and secondary cardiovascular disease prevention among Black women is an important question for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWomen's Health
StatePublished - 2021


  • behavioral health
  • disparities
  • hypertension
  • stress
  • women’s health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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