Deportation fears linked to high blood pressure among immigrant women

(CNN) — The United States’ restrictive immigration policies are having an impact on the health of immigrant women, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers at the University of California looked at risk factors for cardiovascular disease among mostly Latina women in the United States who feared deportation either for themselves or for family members, and found an increased risk of high blood pressure and other heart diseases.

Researchers did not reveal whether the women were US residents or undocumented immigrants due to privacy concerns.

Study author Jacqueline Torres, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco, said the conclusion is important.

“One reason is it tracks the long-term impact of immigration policy and enforcement,” Torres said. “This is about broader impacts in our community.”

Previous studies have shown a link between deportation worry and depression, anxiety and higher levels of inflammation. This latest study now shows a link between deportation fears and high blood pressure.

Scientists followed 572 women averaging 39 years old over a four-year period and discovered that almost half, or 48%, reported “a lot” of what researchers called “deportation worry”; 24% reported a “moderate” amount of worry; 28% reported “not too much.”

Among 408 of the participants who did not have high blood pressure when the study started, those reporting “a lot” or “moderate” worry over possible deportation were at greater risk of experiencing hypertension, compared to those who reported “not too much worry.”

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Shelby Lin Erdman