New research shows the prevalence of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is dramatically higher in Black and Hispanic women vs. people of other races and ethnicities.

In this retrospective case-controlled study, electric health records were examined: 223 women with IIH and 4,783 without; women without IIH age 50 or younger served as the control group.1

A greater proportion of those with IIH (52.9%) were Black or Hispanic, compared with the control group at only 22%. When adjusted for age, women with IIH were nearly 3.5 times more likely to be Black and about twice as likely to be Hispanic. They were also more likely to live in low-income tracts or be on food swamps.

“While prior studies have demonstrated the differences in IIH between different races, ours is the first one to identify the association between socioeconomic determinants of health and the prevalence of IIH,” study investigator Venkatesh L. Brahma, MD, told Medscape Medical News.2

Obesity plays a major role in the condition, as it’s the main risk factor for IIH and most often occurs in women of childbearing age. Socioeconomic and environmental factors contribute to the high obesity rate, as minority communities are less likely to have access to healthy food; lower income rates among these groups also contribute.

"Our study seems to identify similar relationships between socioeconomic factors and the prevalence of IIH," Dr. Brahma concluded.

1. Brahma VL, Snow J, Tam V, et al. Socioeconomic and geographic disparities in idiopathic intracranial hypertension. Neurology. May 2021. Epub ahead of print.

2. Greb E. Dramatically higher prevalence of idiopathic intracranial hypertension in black women. Medscape Medical News, May 19, 2021.