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Biological Understanding of Health


This paper explores the biological influences of health by exploring why African-Americans suffer from high rates of hypertension. It links this condition to health inequities and inequalities that this racial group experience in America. Furthermore, it explores how health inequities and biology contribute to high rates of hypertension among African-Americans. Similarly, this study explores how cultural and economic factors influence biological mechanisms that result in the condition. The last section of this paper proposes policies that could address this health issue.

Description of Population Segment

African-Americans are a critical part of the US population. They comprise about 10% of the national population. Statistics show that most African-Americans come from low-income families. Research also shows that their biological make-up and economic conditions predispose them to hypertension (Smedley, Jeffries, Adelman, and Cheng, 2008).

Relationship between Health Inequality/Inequities and Common Biological or Behavioral Risk Factors That Link to a Particular Disease in That Population Segment

Health inequities and inequalities affect the incidence of high blood pressure among African-Americans because it increases their predisposition to the disease. For example, some medical literatures show that some policies of the slave trade era enabled a genetic transmission of genes from slaves to current generations of African-Americans (Smedley et al., 2008). Health inequities in the American health care system have further worsened this situation through subtle forms of racism in the health care system. For example, racism has caused many African-American patients to receive poor treatment at hospitals, compared to their white counterparts (Smedley et al., 2008).

Therefore, they have a limited access to quality care. This situation has lowered their chances of survival when they get hypertension. Collectively, African-Americans suffer high morbidity and mortality rates associated with hypertension.

The relationship between Health Inequality/Inequities and Life Expectancy for that Population

The health inequities and inequalities that affect African-Americans explain the low life expectancy among this population group. For example, experts say African-American have a lower life expectancy than their white counterparts do (5.1 years lower) (Smedley et al., 2008). Similarly, African-American women die 4.8 years earlier than their white counterparts do (Smedley et al., 2008).

How Cultural and Economic Factors Influence Those Biologic Mechanisms That Can Result in Disease for Specific Segments of the Population

Many African-Americans live segregated lives (characterized by public housing, poor access to health care and high unemployment rates). Most of these factors cause life stresses that often affect their health (Adelman, 2008). For example, a high unemployment rate makes it difficult for African-American men to provide for their families. This situation affects their mental health and well-being (World Health Organization, 2010).

Possible Policy Solutions for Reducing the Disease Burden

Policies that focus on improving “housing mobility” are bound to improve the health outcomes of African-American people in the US. Research shows that helping African-Americans move from impoverished neighborhoods to surroundings that are more “progressive” could improve their health outcomes (Smedley et al., 2008). Since African-Americans also suffer from the lack of adequate opportunities for personal growth, there should be a policy focus for distributing new areas of job creation from suburban and exurban communities to “upcoming” areas (dominated by ethnic minorities).

This intervention would reduce geographical barriers that limit personal growth opportunities. Since public health research affirms the relationship between community well-being and public health, these measures are similarly bound to decrease the disease burden of hypertension on African-American populations (Bezruchka, 2005).


This paper affirms the relationship between biology and human health. It shows that African-Americans suffer high rates of hypertension because they are genetically predisposed to the disease. However, health inequities and inequalities also contribute to adult morbidity (within this racial group) because limited opportunities for growth, lack of proper access to health care services, and low incomes contribute to poor health outcomes. To solve most of these challenges, we would require timely policy interventions that aim to increase opportunities for growth and improve the welfare of ethnic minorities in the US.


Adelman, L. (Executive producer). (2008). Unnatural Causes: Episode 2—When the bough breaks. United States: Public Broadcasting Service.

Bezruchka, S. (2005). From womb to tomb: The influence of early childhood on adult health. Web.

Smedley, B., Jeffries, M., Adelman, L., and Cheng, J. (2008). Race, Racial Inequality and Health Inequities: Separating Myth from Fact. Web.

World Health Organization. (2010). Good health in youth sets the stage for well-being in later life. Web.

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