The heart of Detroit study: a window into urban middle-aged and older African Americans’ daily lives to understand psychosocial determinants of cardiovascular disease risk

Kristin M. Davis, Katherine Knauft, Lena Lewis, Michael Petriello, Lauren Petrick, Francesca Luca, Nataria T. Joseph, Heather Fritz, Malcolm Cutchin, Lance Rappaport, Philip Levy, Christopher G. Engeland, Samuele Zilioli

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Background: Cardiovascular disease disproportionately affects African Americans. Psychosocial factors, including the experience of and emotional reactivity to racism and interpersonal stressors, contribute to the etiology and progression of cardiovascular disease through effects on health behaviors, stress-responsive neuroendocrine axes, and immune processes. The full pathway and complexities of these associations remain underexamined in African Americans. The Heart of Detroit Study aims to identify and model the biopsychosocial pathways that influence cardiovascular disease risk in a sample of urban middle-aged and older African American adults. Methods: The proposed sample will be composed of 500 African American adults between the ages of 55 and 75 from the Detroit urban area. This longitudinal study will consist of two waves of data collection, two years apart. Biomarkers of stress, inflammation, and cardiovascular surrogate endpoints (i.e., heart rate variability and blood pressure) will be collected at each wave. Ecological momentary assessments will characterize momentary and daily experiences of stress, affect, and health behaviors during the first wave. A proposed subsample of 60 individuals will also complete an in-depth qualitative interview to contextualize quantitative results. The central hypothesis of this project is that interpersonal stressors predict poor cardiovascular outcomes, cumulative physiological stress, poor sleep, and inflammation by altering daily affect, daily health behaviors, and daily physiological stress. Discussion: This study will provide insight into the biopsychosocial pathways through which experiences of stress and discrimination increase cardiovascular disease risk over micro and macro time scales among urban African American adults. Its discoveries will guide the design of future contextualized, time-sensitive, and culturally tailored behavioral interventions to reduce racial disparities in cardiovascular disease risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number766
JournalBMC psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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