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Alarming Number of Latinos With Heart-Related Ailments
Photo: American Heart Association

Alarming Number of Latinos With Heart-Related Ailments

WITH THE ALARMING NUMBER OF LATINOS WITH HEART-RELATED AILMENTS, THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION FOCUSES A NEW CAMPAIGN TO ENCOURAGE HEALTHIER LIFESTYLES

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February marks American Heart Month, a time each year when the nation spotlights cardiovascular disease and heart health, which is the number one killer of Americans.

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that includes a number of health problems, such as heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, arrhythmia, and more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease, and about 659,000 die in the U.S. from heart disease each year.

For people of color, including Latinos and Hispanics, there are many risk factors to heart disease.

Between 2015 and 2018, 52.3% of males and 42.7% of females 20 years of age and older had cardiovascular disease.

In 2019, cardiovascular disease caused the deaths of 31,864 Hispanic males and 26,820 Hispanic females of all ages in the United States, totaling 58,504 Hispanic deaths that year.

The numbers remain alarming when looking at the rate in which Latinos are have strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other ailments.

Strokes caused the deaths of 5,649 U.S. Hispanic males and 6,310 Hispanic females in 2019.

Projections show that by 2030, an additional 3.4 million U.S. adults over the age of 18 will have had a stroke, representing a 20.5% increase in prevalence from 2012. The highest increase is projected to be in White Hispanic males.

Among stroke survivors in a 2014 study, Hispanic individuals scored lower on a test of stroke symptoms and the appropriate response to those symptoms than non-Hispanic White individuals, 72.5% to 79.1% of correct responses, and were less often aware (79.2% to 91.5%) of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) as a treatment for stroke.

Health Factors for Latinos

Cardiovascular disease can lead to further health ailments if not treated, such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

For U.S. Hispanic adults aged 20 and older in the United States, 50.6% of males and 40.8% of females had high blood pressure from 2015 to 2018. This led to a total of 7,608 deaths in 2019.

Among adolescents 12 to 19 years of age in the United States between 2015 and 2018, the mean total blood cholesterol (TC) level was 155.1 mg/dL. For Hispanic adolescents, it was 152.3mg/dL for males and 153.8 mg/dL for females.

For U.S. Hispanics aged 20 and older during the same time span, 37.7% of males and 37.3% of females had TC levels of 200 mg/dL or higher.

These numbers tell a story: it is important to get checked regularly for these ailments.

According to data from 2011 to 2012, 59.3% of U.S. Hispanic adults had their cholesterol checks the past few years, lower than non-Hispanic whites, Blacks and Asians.

The American Heart Association recently launched a new campaign, “Reclaim Your Rhythm,” that helps people create healthy habits that give them the best chance at life.

What Can We All Do?

There are many steps that all of us can take to live healthier lifestyles and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

One of the main ways we can make a difference in our own and each other’s lives is to know the risks.

Everyday elements like eating a healthy diet, being physically active, watching your weight, and living tobacco-free can drastically reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or suffering from a heart-related issue.

Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States, linked to about one-third of all deaths from heart disease, and 90% of lung cancers.

While tobacco use and nicotine addictions remains a growing crisis for teens and young adults, millions of people successfully quit each year. Within one year after quitting, your risk of heart disease reduces by about half.

For individuals who have a preexisting heart-related ailment, managing your conditions, taking your medications, and being a team player can all play huge dividends down the line.

Individuals with elevated, high or hypertensive blood pressure can especially take these steps: eating smart, moving more, managing their weight, not smoking and sleeping well to get their blood pressure under control.

Doing so can drastically reduce the chances of heart attack, stroke and death.

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, we all have a role to play. 

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