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Categories:  Faculty, Research

Latinos at risk for cardiovascular disease

Martha Daviglus

“U.S. Hispanic/Latino prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors had been underestimated,” says Martha Daviglus, director of the UIC Institute for Minority Health Research. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

Hispanics and Latinos living in the U.S. 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.

“We found that U.S. Hispanic/Latino prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors had been underestimated,” says Martha Daviglus, director of the UIC Institute for Minority Health Research and first author of the report in today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Hispanics and Latinos now comprise the largest minority group in the U.S. Although this population is relatively young, cardiovascular diseases are already the 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.

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, principal investigator of the study’s Chicago 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 U.S.

• those who lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years

• 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.”

The study included men and women between the ages of 18 and 74 of Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Central and South American backgrounds.

Participants were recruited and examined between March 2008 and June 2011 in four field centers affiliated with San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego; Northwestern University and UIC; Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York; and the University of Miami.

Gregory A. Talavera of San Diego State University, principal investigator of the San Diego Field Center, was co-first author of the report.

Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos was sponsored by contracts from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and six other institutes, centers and offices of the National Institutes of Health.

jgala@uic.edu

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