In the United States, roughly one-third of adults have hypertension; another third have prehypertension. The prevalence of hypertension in deaf American Sign Language (ASL) users is unknown. We address this gap through a descriptive study for the prevalence of hypertension in the American Deaf community and discuss future directions to address this issue.
Self-reported data for 1,388 ASL using deaf adults were compared with a secondary data of 2,830 English-speaking hearing adults. Frequency and percentages were used to describe the prevalence of hypertension in the deaf community. Age-weighted analysis was used to compare unmodifiable risk factors and hypertension rate between deaf and hearing adults.
Deaf and hearing samples’ hypertension rates for gender and age were similar. Significant group differences between deaf and hearing samples emerged across race. Compared with the hearing controls, our deaf sample demonstrated a significantly decreased risk for hypertension with a prevalence of 37% (compared with 45% in the hearing sample).
Although the hypertension rate for gender and age was similar across deaf and hearing samples, between-group disparities exist for race. The lower rate of hypertension in our deaf sample is likely a consequence of underdiagnoses due to lower health literacy and poor patient–physician communication. Furthermore, deaf black Americans’ lower rates compared with hearing black Americans may be due to poor patient–physician communication, not having regular providers or social stressors. It is recommended that modifiable risk factors and social determinants be investigated to determine their effect on hypertension within the deaf community."