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Many studies correlated racial discrimination with mental distress and increased cardiovascular response (CVR). The body reacts to increased stress by amplifying nervous system activities, such as increased epinephrine secretion (responsible for "fight or flight" response) and elevated blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate.
Other studies have shown that continuous exposure to racial discrimination can increase and maintain elevated CVR in African Americans. For example:
African American women who were treated unfairly but did not report the discrimination exhibited higher blood pressure than those who spoke up. (Krieger and Sidney, 1996).
Aversive racism, a more prevalent and subtle form of racism experienced over time, can have a cumulative effect leading to hypertension. (Merritt et al., 2006)