Study: Optimistic Latinos Have Healthier Hearts

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Latinos who are the most optimistic also are more likely to have healthy hearts, according to a new study.

Rosalba Hernandez of the University of Illinois studied 4,900 Latinos living in the United States. She and her team found that, for each percentage point increase in Latinos’ optimism, there was a better heart health score, too.

Meanwhile, few of the less optimistic Latinos met the criteria for ideal heart health.

“Each unit increase in a Latino adult’s level of optimism was associated with 3% higher odds of meeting the criteria for ideal cardiovascular health across four or more metrics,” said Hernandez, a social work professor, in a news release. “The correlation between optimism and cardiovascular health was consistent across heritage groups, regardless of age, sex, nativity status or level of acculturation.”

Certain Latinos Are More Optimistic

latina women exercise fitness happy optimisticHernandez also set out to explore if this effect persisted across heritage groups in her study sample:

  • Mexican heritage (37%)
  • Cuban heritage (20%)
  • Puerto Rican heritage (15.5%)
  • Dominican heritage (11.5%)
  • Central American heritage (7.4%)
  • South American heritage (4.7%)

Latinos of Cuban and Central American heritage were the most optimistic.

Latinos of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage were the least optimistic.

The most optimistic Latinos also tended to be older, married or living with a partner, better educated and more affluent,” according to the researchers.

What Does this Study Mean?

Hernandez and her team said that tapping into optimism is a low-cost way to boost Latino heart health.

“Problems with access to health care, affordability and the shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists who speak Spanish are significant challenges for Latino populations in the U.S.,” Hernandez said. “We need to find accessible, cost-effective ways of utilizing technology to help vulnerable populations.”

Learn more about Latino families and mental health care and services:

Take Action for Latino Minds!

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Healthy Minds

By The Numbers By The Numbers

22

PERCENT

of Latino youth have depressive symptoms (a rate higher than most other groups).

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