Harvard School of Public Health alum Dr. Michelle Albert conducts research on disparities in cardiovascular health across racial and ethnic groups—hypertension, for example, appears at a much younger age in black people than white people—and in particular the role stress might play in increasing risk for heart disease.
Albert, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, spoke with the Boston Globe about her life and work. Growing up in Guyana, one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, meant that her “interest in medicine developed within a social context,” she said. Now, she tries to understand how psychological stressors could mean a higher burden of cardiovascular risk for certain populations. “If you live in a neighborhood where you are constantly subjected to hearing gunshots, and you’re not able to walk in a park because it’s not safe, that does have biological effects,” she said. “We have dealt with insurance [coverage] for access to care. We haven’t dealt with the neighborhood.”
Happiness and health: The biology of emotion (Harvard Public Health Review)