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Although fewer Americans overall are dying from heart disease than 40 years ago, researchers have found that the top “hotbeds” for heart disease have migrated to the Southern U.S.
In the 1970s, the counties with the highest heart disease rates were clustered in the northeast, according to a new study, HealthDay reports.
Now, they are concentrated in what is considered the “deep” South, a region where the Latino population is large. The U.S. southwest, for example, is by far the most Latino region of the country, but the entire Latino population is booming in the South, according to a report.
The study has not determined the causes for the shift, only the trend.
“[From] other studies we know the socioeconomic conditions of a county can affect rates of smoking and obesity, or whether people have access to affordable, healthy food, for example,” said lead researcher Michelle Casper, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Across the nation, about 6.8% of U.S.-born Latinos have heart disease, compared to just 3.6% of foreign-born Latinos, according to recent CDC statistics.
Southern states often have the highest rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and kidney disease, which are risk factors of heart disease. Latinos also deal with disproportionately higher rates of diabetes and obesity, and face even higher risks of heart diseases due to high blood pressure.
“Social risk factors for heart disease are more common in the South,” said Dr. Donald Barr, professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “The disparity in heart disease deaths is not about hospital care. It’s about broader social structure.”
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