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Hispanics Have a Higher Likelihood of Heart Disease and Stroke


A new statement from the American Heart Association highlights the susceptibility of Hispanics to heart disease and stroke, and how health professionals must customize their care to be culturally-sensitive.

Though there is a great level of diversity within Hispanic communities, the statement states that the population is twice as likely as Caucasians to have a stroke before the age of 60 and is more likely to experience significantly more hospitalizations due to heart attacks than Caucasians. The authors also state that among immigrant Hispanic communities, the risk for obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure increases the longer they stay in the United States.

Carlos Rodriguez, M.D., M.P.H. is a cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and is the lead author of the study. “This segment of the population has been somewhat ignored,” Rodriguez said. “Given the large Hispanic population in the U.S., it would be very hard to achieve great health metrics for the nation if this population is left behind.”

It is estimated that by 2050, the Hispanic-American population will reach nearly 133 million, or 30 percent of the country’s population. At the same time, Hispanic-Americans have the same likelihood of suffering from heart disease as other Americans. Yet, despite the high risk of heart disease and stroke that Hispanic population experiences, the authors point out that there is surprisingly a large disparity in knowledge about the effects of cardiovascular disease among Hispanic-Americans.

One reason for this gap in cultural competence among healthcare professionals and the lack of awareness and knowledge that the Hispanic-American community is diverse and complex as a population, Rodriguez told the American Heart Association, who publishes the journal.  “I hear a lot about cardiovascular risk in Hispanic-Americans and it doesn’t quite fit with what I see in my community from the Dominican Republic,” he said. Rodriguez also added that most of the data on Hispanic-American health so far, has come from studies focusing on Mexican-Americans.

For more information and recommendations on what those in the healthcare field can do to address this gap in awareness and combat cardiovascular disease in Hispanic-American populations, see these two resources:

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