Hispanics at high risk for cardiovascular disease, study finds

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Hispanic heart health: Hispanics and Latinos living in the United States are highly likely to have several major cardiovascular disease risk factors, according to large-scale study. | FILE PHOTO

Hispanics and Latinos living in the United States are highly likely to have several major cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and smoking, according to a new, large-scale study. Risks vary among the diverse Hispanic/Latino groups, but individuals who were born in the U.S. are more likely to have multiple risk factors.

The findings are reported in the Nov. 7 issue of JAMA.

Hispanic and Latino people now comprise the largest minority group in the United States. Although this population is relatively young, cardiovascular diseases are already their leading cause of death — and the group is at high risk of future cardiovascular disease as it becomes older.

The data came from 15,079 Hispanic/Latino men and women who participated in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL).

“We found that U.S. Hispanic/Latino prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors had been underestimated,” said Martha Daviglus, director of the Institute for Minority Health Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago and first author of the JAMA report.

A “very large” proportion of study participants — 80 percent of men and 71 percent of women — were found to have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, said Daviglus, who is principal investigator of the Chicago HCHS/SOL Field Center.

Prevalence of three or more risk factors was highest among those of Puerto Rican background, and significantly higher among those with less education, those who were born in the United States, those who lived in the United States for at least 10 years, and those whose preferred language was English rather than Spanish.

“It is important to understand the distribution of risk factors in this relatively young population,” Daviglus said, “because this is our opportunity to educate the community and prevent cardiovascular disease that could be devastating to this population as they age.”