November 27, 2019
2 min read

Deportation worry may increase hypertension risk in Latina women

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Among women primarily born in Mexico, deportation worry was linked to nonlinear mean arterial pressure and systolic BP trajectories, which may widen disparities in CVD risk factors and outcomes, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“Our findings do not mean that each individual who is experiencing high levels of fear or worry related to immigration policies and enforcement will necessarily experience these adverse outcomes,” Jacqueline M. Torres, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, told Healio. “As population health scientists, we are typically considering effects of social and environmental factors on populations rather than individual patients. However, these findings do highlight for clinicians, on average, the experiences of fear related to immigration policies and enforcement may get ‘under the skin’ to impact heart health in the long run.”

Researchers analyzed data from 572 women (mean age, 39 years) from the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas study. Of these women, 88% were not born in the U.S., and 99% of immigrant women were from Mexico. Women were asked about deportation worry at baseline and at 4 years. Other data were collected at approximately 2 and 4 years such as BMI, waist circumference and systolic and diastolic BP.

Regarding deportation, 48% of women reported a high level of worry at baseline, 24% reported moderate worry and 28% reported a low level of worry.

Women who reported higher worry at baseline typically had a faster initial increase in systolic BP (beta, interaction with linear year term = 4.1; 95% CI, 1.17-7.03), which was then followed by a faster decrease (beta, interaction with quadratic year term = –0.8; 95% CI, –1.55 to –0.06), compared with those who reported a low level of worry. A similar pattern was also seen for mean arterial pressure trajectories.

Evidence was weak for the link between deportation worry and diastolic BP. No association was seen between worry and waist circumference, BMI or pulse pressure trajectories.

Researchers also performed an analysis of the 408 women who did not have hypertension at baseline. The risk for incident hypertension was greater in women who reported a lot (HR = 2.17; 95% CI, 1.15-4.1) and moderate worry about deportation (HR = 2.48; 95% CI, 1.17-4.3) compared with those who reported little worry about deportation.


“Further research is needed to understand the long-term impacts of immigration policies and enforcement on heart health is needed in other settings and across diverse groups, including diverse backgrounds and life-course stages,” Torres said in an interview. “This includes a focus on the impacts of more recent policies passed and enforcement actions taken, including after the 2016 presidential election. In addition, future research might evaluate some of the widespread impacts of immigration policies and enforcement on other experiences including social isolation and discrimination, and how these experiences impact heart health.” – by Darlene Dobkowski

For more information:

Jacqueline M. Torres, PhD, MPH, can be reached at 550 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94143; email:

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.