OBJECTIVES - We assessed the relative roles of education and genetic ancestry in predicting blood pressure (BP) within African Americans and explored the association between education and BP across racial groups.
METHODS - We used t tests and linear regressions to examine the associations of genetic ancestry, estimated from a genomewide set of autosomal markers, and education with BP variation among African Americans in the Family Blood Pressure Program. We also performed linear regressions in self-identified African Americans and Whites to explore the association of education with BP across racial groups.
RESULTS - Education, but not genetic ancestry, significantly predicted BP variation in the African American subsample (b=-0.51 mm Hg per year additional education; P=.001). Although education was inversely associated with BP in the total population, within-group analyses showed that education remained a significant predictor of BP only among the African Americans. We found a significant interaction (b=3.20; P=.006) between education and self-identified race in predicting BP.
CONCLUSIONS - Racial disparities in BP may be better explained by differences in education than by genetic ancestry. Future studies of ancestry and disease should include measures of the social environment.