Former prison inmates are more likely than those who have never been incarcerated to have high blood pressure as young adults and to develop a dangerous thickening of the heart’s left ventricle, a new study has found.
Experts have long known that inmates are at greater risk for infectious diseases such as H.I.V., hepatitis and tuberculosis, but less is known about whether they are more likely to develop such chronic conditions as hypertension. The new study suggests that they might be, and that traditionally suspect risk factors for heart disease — such as drug and alcohol use, obesityand poverty — do not entirely explain the increased risk.
Although the association was strongest for black men and the less educated, who also have the highest incarceration rates, lead author Dr. Emily A. Wang of the Yale University School of Medicine said those factors did not explain the increased risk.
“It’s not that they’re black. It’s not that they’re poor. It’s not that they smoke or use cocaine or methamphetamine or drink a lot. We adjusted for all of that. . . .There’s something specific about having been incarcerated,” said Dr. Wang, formerly of San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco.