Heart Disease Risk Higher among ‘Acculturated’ Latinos; Risk Factors Vary by Latino Background


Share On Social!

Heart disease risk factors are widespread among U.S. Latino adults, with 80% of men and 71% of women having at least one risk factor for heart disease, according to a San Diego State University (SDSU) study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

These percentages are much higher than the general population, where 49% of adults have at least one major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Prevalence of risk factors varies across Hispanic/Latino background groups, with some groups, particularly those with Puerto Rican background, experiencing high rates of heart disease risk factors compared to other groups, according to findings from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), which will be published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Latinos who are more “acculturated” (born in the U.S. or lived here 10 years or longer, and preferred English vs. Spanish) were significantly more likely to have three or more risk factors.

The more acculturated individuals are the higher rates of self-reported heart disease and stroke.

“Clinicians now have more data to understand the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in Hispanic/Latino communities,” said Dr. Greg Talavera, professor in the Graduate School of Public Health at SDSU and principal investigator for the HCHS/SOL Field Center. “For example, here in San Diego the majority of Hispanic/Latinos are of Mexican background and the study found that the prevalence of diabetes was generally higher compared to other Hispanic/Latino background groups.”

Findings from this phase of the study include self-reported information on heart disease and stroke and clinically measured risk factors. The study team will continue to follow participants to learn how risk factors change over time and how they influence the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Hispanic/Latino people in the United States; however, prior research has underestimated the burden of heart disease risk factors in Hispanic/Latino populations,” said Dr. Larissa Avilés-Santa, project officer for HCHS/SOL and employee with NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which supported the study.

HCHS/SOL is a multi-center, prospective, population-based study that included more than 16,000 Latino adults of different backgrounds—including Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central American, and South American—between the ages of 18074. It is the first to examine the prevalence of heart disease risk factors—high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and smoking—within a large, diverse Latino population.

By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latinos remain without health insurance coverage

Share your thoughts