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Partnerships for Native Health Washington State University

Risk Factors in Adolescence for the Development of Elevated Blood Pressure and Hypertension in American Indian and Alaskan Native Adults

Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health (2020) | 28 November 2020

Anna Zamora-KapoorLuciana E. HebertMorgan MontañezDedra Buchwald & Ka’imi Sinclair

Abstract

To examine risk factors for elevated blood pressure and hypertension in American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), compared to three other ethnic groups in the US. Weighted relative risk regression models, stratified by race/ethnicity, were used to measure the associations between risk factors and elevated blood pressure and hypertension in AI/ANs, compared to non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics, with data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. In all groups, females had a lower risk of both elevated blood pressure and hypertension than males. Increasing body mass index raised hypertension risk in all groups. In AI/ANs, financial instability increased the risk of hypertension by 88% (95% CI: 1.27–2.77), but not in other groups. No other statistically significant associations were found. Future interventions should include socio-economic factors in efforts to prevent hypertension in AI/ANs. Read more.

WSU’s Lonnie Nelson evaluating COVID vaccines for impact on indigenous populations

Dr. Lonnie Nelson

From WSU INSIDER

Lonnie Nelson’s work improving the health and well-being of indigenous peoples has earned him grant funding, awards and citations as an academic researcher at Washington State University Health Sciences.

It’s also brought him to a position of vital importance right now: evaluating potential COVID-19 vaccines for how they will be perceived and accepted by Native American and indigenous populations. He was invited to sit on a panel of a dozen scientific experts by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; similar panels of have been convened for other populations that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Nelson was a natural choice for the panel, said Michele Andrasik of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, who’s leading community engagement efforts for the COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network.

“It’s no surprise his name came up several times” when seeking recommendations for panelists, Andrasik said. “Lonnie has a longstanding and unwavering commitment to Native and indigenous populations.”

Nelson said the panel has reviewed a handful of vaccines so far. The group’s most common feedback: to try to make the vaccine one dose rather than two.

“If it’s two doses, it makes access a nightmare for people who are under-resourced,” he said.

He also suggests delivery of a vaccine, when it’s ready, should be done in collaboration with members of Native communities – the same approach he has taken as a researcher.

“If you’re trying to develop any kind of intervention you need to work with people in the community where it’s going to be implemented, or it’s very likely not going to be successful,” he said.

Nelson is co-director of Partnerships for Native Health at WSU, one of the largest research centers focused on Native health in the United States, which is housed within the Initiative for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH). Research studies include examining the causes and prevalence of disease within the American Indian/Alaska Native population and developing culturally appropriate and feasible interventions.

His mother was a nurse in the Indian Health Service and he’s an American Indian with origins in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “My friends, family, all the people I cared about growing up were from the Native community,” Nelson said.

He and other IREACH researchers joined WSU from the University of Washington in 2015. Since then, Nelson alone has generated $19.6 million in research activity.

He recently received the Largest New Team Grant award from the WSU Office of Research in recognition of a $9.67 million grant to study Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in the Native population, with Nelson as the principal investigator.

Last year, before he gained tenure, he was one of two researchers receiving WSU’s Pacesetter Award for pre-tenure faculty who “set new achievement standards in obtaining grants, publications and citations.”

“Dr. Nelson’s work is crucial to help improve the health and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native adults,” said Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, vice chancellor for research at WSU Health Sciences. “His work will assist in decreasing health disparities and lack of access to healthcare that disproportionately impact American Indian and Alaska Native populations.”

Said Julie Postma, associate dean for research at the College of Nursing, “Dr. Nelson’s work is laudable and contributes to the College of Nursing’s commitment to research that advances health equity.”

Nelson attributes his success as an academic researcher to good training and persistence.

“If you look at the list of my grants submitted that were not funded, it’s a longer list than those that were funded,” he noted.

He also said it’s important to be “pro-social,” a term he prefers to networking.

“Make those friendships, make those connections,” he said. “Think of it as making friends with people who have similar interest and expertise and want to do good things for communities.”

Story by Addy Hatch, WSU College of Nursing

Reducing the Risk of Stroke in American Indians

American Indians are more likely to suffer a stroke than members of any other racial or ethnic group in the US. They also tend to have strokes earlier in life than non-Hispanic Whites. In fact, American Indians younger than 65 are three times more likely to die of stroke than Whites of similar age. Given these statistics, an ongoing study by researchers with Partnerships for Native Health seeks to define the risk factors for stroke in American Indians.

So far, this research has resulted in two scientific publications in Neuroepidemiology. Both are led by Dr. Astrid Suchy-Dicey, an Assistant Research Professor at Washington State University. More publications will follow in the near future. Once all analyses are complete, the next step will be to design interventions that can reduce or eliminate disparities in stroke for Native people.
» More …

Fighting Obesity with Breast Milk

Anna Zamora-Kapoor, PhD, a researcher with Partnerships for Native Health, recently reported a link between breastfeeding and body weight later in life among Native people. In an article published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, she demonstrated that longer periods of breastfeeding in infancy are associated with lower body mass index (BMI) among American Indian and Alaska Native adolescents and young adults.

“The more breastfeeding, the better,” says Dr. Zamora-Kapoor. “Babies who breastfeed longer are more likely to avoid excess weight gain in adolescence and beyond. This is important for Native families, because Native youth have the highest rates of obesity among young people of all races. Obesity is associated with many health problems that are prevalent in Native communities, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
» More …

Our Food is Our Medicine

Print

For the past three years, the Institute of Indigenous Foods & Traditions at the Northwest Indian College has been holding an annual conference called “Our Food is Our Medicine.” This year, the Suquamish Tribe hosted the conference from September 24th to 26th at the beautiful Kiana Lodge on the shores of the Salish Sea. The event draws people from around Indian Country to discuss and learn more about how American Indians and Alaska Natives are revitalizing traditional food systems in their communities. » More …

Measuring the Burden of Historical Trauma

PrintMeasuring the Burden of Historical Trauma

For 500 years, Native Americans have suffered drastic and often violent changes in their lives because of European colonization. The effects of this epic disruption have persisted down the generations. One term often used to describe this long-running tragedy is historical trauma. » More …

Is Gambling Good for American Indians?

PrintIs Gambling Good for American Indians?

 

American Indian-owned casinos are a familiar feature of contemporary life in the U.S. They’re advertised on billboards, satirized in TV comedies, and debated in the pages of tabloids and scholarly journals. They’ve encouraged at least one false stereotype: the crazy idea that Indian tribes nowadays are rolling in money because of blackjack and slot machines. That’s just not happening.

» More …

A Cure for Poverty?

PrintA Cure for Poverty?

 

Native Americans experience the most severe poverty of all U.S. racial and ethnic groups. In particular, one-third of all Native households with children younger than five years live below the federal poverty line.

 

The harsh effects of poverty are well known. Poor children are more likely than others to have asthma, to be obese, and to die of infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, and less likely to meet standards for reading proficiency. Their parents are more likely than others to be depressed.

 

The English language is rich in clichés about poverty. Two old sayings come to mind: “The poor will always be with us” and “Throwing money at poverty is no way to cure it.”

 

» More …

A Cure for Poverty?

Native Americans experience the most severe poverty of all U.S. racial and ethnic groups. In particular, one-third of all Native households with children younger than five years live below the federal poverty line.

 

The harsh effects of poverty are well known. Poor children are more likely than others to have asthma, to be obese, and to die of infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, and less likely to meet standards for reading proficiency. Their parents are more likely than others to be depressed.

 

The English language is rich in clichés about poverty. Two old sayings come to mind: “The poor will always be with us” and “Throwing money at poverty is no way to cure it.”

» More …