• African Americans;
  • cardiovascular diseases;
  • diabetes;
  • genetics;
  • families


Familial aggregation of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes has been consistently demonstrated. However, virtually all of the evidence on the familial patterns of these diseases has come from white population samples. This study evaluates the level of familial excess risk among first degree relatives of 232 African-American pedigrees which included 1,420 individuals recruited from the Chicago, IL, area. Excess disease risk was observed among relatives (parents and offsprings) of affected probands compared to relatives of unaffected probands for coronary heart disease (odds ratio [OR] = 5.30; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.51–11.23); hypertension (OR = 1.98; CI = 1.41–2.80); stroke (OR = 3.24; CI = 1.08–9.70); and diabetes (OR = 2.95; CI = 1.55–5.62). The results of this study clearly show that coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and diabetes aggregate in some African-American families and not others. Unaffected relatives of persons suffering from these diseases should be encouraged to have their blood pressure, lipid, and blood glucose levels measured at frequent intervals. These recommendations are particularly urgent in African-American communities because of the disproportionately high morbidity and mortality experienced from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.