American Indians/Alaska Natives and Cardiovascular Disease: Outcomes, Interventions, and Areas of Opportunity

  • Selina A. MohammedEmail author
  • Wadiya Udell
Race and Ethnic Disparities (M. Albert, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Race + Ethnicity Disparities


Purpose of Review

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a reported leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) and takes a disproportionate toll on these populations. Using the electronic database PubMed, the purpose of this review is to summarize findings from CVD morbidity/mortality outcome studies, as well as CVD and CVD risk factor intervention studies among AI/ANs, published in 2014 and 2015.

Recent Findings

Eighteen empirical studies that focused on CVD outcomes and CVD/CVD risk factor interventions were reviewed. Four of five studies on CVD mortality found that CVD is a leading or second leading cause of death among AI/ANs and that CVD mortality is still disproportionately high compared to whites. Three studies examined smoking or high-fat diets and found an association between these risk factors and CVD. Two CVD prevalence studies did not find statistically significant differences between AI/ANs and whites; however, this may be due to specific sample characteristics of these particular studies. Seven of eight CVD/CVD risk factor intervention studies, ranging in type of interventions delivered and outcomes measured, found beneficial CVD/CVD risk factor outcomes. One study uniquely underscored historical trauma and social determinants of health as barriers to healthy living.


CVD disproportionately burdens AI/AN communities. Large-scale studies that oversample for AI/ANs are needed to document the continuing effects of CVD among Indigenous communities and monitor their disparity status in CVD morbidity/mortality. More interventions with control or comparison groups are also needed to address CVD and CVD risk factors among AI/AN communities and document their effectiveness. In addition, collaborative community-based interventions that tackle root issues of CVD-related disparities and attend to social determinants of health are needed.


American Indians Alaska Natives Cardiovascular disease Cardiovascular disease risk factors Health disparities 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Drs. Mohammed and Udell declare no conflict of interests.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing and Health StudiesUniversity of Washington BothellBothellUSA
  2. 2.School of Interdisciplinary Arts and SciencesUniversity of Washington BothellBothellUSA

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