Hispanic Heritage and Heart Disease
During National Hispanic Heritage Month — from September 15 to October 15 — the United States celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. To ensure that members of those communities live a long, healthy life, Close the Gap wants to take this opportunity to spread awareness of how heart disease disproportionately affects Hispanic Americans.
Think Again About Heart Disease & Hispanic Americans
More Hispanic Americans die from diseases of heart and stroke each year than any other cause of death.1,2 Think this is simply due to heredity and that there is nothing they can do? Think again. Heart disease is the number one killer of Latino Americans largely due to their alarmingly high rates of preventable risk factors, including:
- Diabetes: More than 11% of Latino Americans age 20 or older have diagnosed diabetes.6 Plus, Latinos with diabetes have higher rates of heart disease death than those without diabetes.3 Yet only 1 in 4 Latinos with diabetes know they are at risk for heart disease.3
- Obesity: More than 70% of Latino Americans age 18 and older are overweight or obese.5
- Inactivity: More than 70% of Latino Americans are physically inactive.5 Compared with non-Latino white women, Latino women are less likely to engage in physical activity.1
- High Blood Pressure: Among Hispanics who experienced a stroke, 72% had high blood pressure, compared to 66% in non-Hispanic whites.7
- High Cholesterol: Compared with White men and Black men, Mexican American men are more likely to have high cholesterol.1
Awareness is Key to Prevention
Even though heart disease and its related risk factors run rampant in their communities, awareness that heart disease is their number one killer is lowest for Latino women at 34%, compared to 62% for white women and 38% for black women.1 At Close the Gap, we are dedicated to raising awareness with both Hispanic men and women about heart disease and how to prevent it.
The good news is that prevention is the same for Hispanic Americans as it is for all other Americans. To prevent heart disease, Latinos should focus on heart-healthy habits such as:
- Don't smoke and avoid second hand smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet.
- Know your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose).
Source content for this article was provided by the American Heart Association. Learn more at heart.org.
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