Study: Many Hispanic/Latino adults in the U.S. are at high risk for heart attack or stroke

Published on November 5, 2012 at 11:45 PM · No Comments

A study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicated that many Hispanic/Latino adults living in the United States are at high risk for heart attack or stroke. This risk is highest in men and in older people, born in the US or that have lived in the US more than 10 years, that prefer to speak English, are lower income, or never finished high school.

"The finding that longer residence in the US increases disease risk may seem counterintuitive, but has previously been reported," says study co-author Schneiderman, James L. Knight Professor of Psychology, Medicine, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at the University of Miami (UM).

The study also found that risk of heart attack and stroke among Hispanics is most highly related to smoking and high blood pressure, but other risk factors are important. The treatable risk factors examined were smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and diabetes. Using national guidelines as a comparison, the study found that Puerto Ricans are the most likely to have three or more risk factors and these usually include smoking and obesity. Cubans and South Americans are the least likely to have diabetes.

The research findings in JAMA come from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, informally called SOL. It is the largest study of Hispanic health ever sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and six other institutes, centers and offices of NIH providing support. SOL's purpose is to determine the health of Hispanics living in the US and to find out the factors that reduce or increase the risk of chronic disease.

The study examined 16,415 randomly selected Hispanic adults living in Miami, Chicago, New York's Bronx, and San Diego between 2008 and 2011. This allowed the SOL investigators to examine the health and disease risk of people from different Hispanic backgrounds including Cubans, Dominicans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Central Americans and South Americans.

"Before today, most of what was known about the extent of heart attacks, strokes and risk factors in Hispanics came primarily from studies of Mexican Americans, who are the largest group of Hispanics living in the US, "says Schneiderman, Principal Investigator of the Miami Field Center of SOL at the UM. "The findings reported today in JAMA show that there are some important differences in risk factors among people from diverse Hispanic backgrounds."

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