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Heart disease hits Latinas via multiple risk factors

By Angela Villanueva
As women grow older, the risk of heart disease and stroke rises and it keeps rising with age, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). But it can also, nonetheless, hit young women in their 20s or 30s, if the right precautions aren’t taken.

One of the biggest reasons for heart problems in the Latino community is diabetes. A little over 13 percent of Latinas are diagnosed with diabetes compared to 13 percent in the African-American community and 6 percent in the Anglo community, according to AHA.

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Even more Latinas are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, with 27 percent compared to 22 percent in the African-American community and 21 percent in the Anglo community. The AHA reports that “Adults with diabetes have heart disease rates that are two to four times those of adults without diabetes.”

Diabetes by itself is enough of a strain on a healthy heart but when it’s aggravated by not eating the right foods, then additional problems, like obesity and high cholesterol, can arise that add to the list of risk factors for a person to develop heart disease.

According to Dr. Rabadán-Diehl, deputy director of the Office of Global Health for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the spokeswoman for The Heart Truth, the NHLBI’s national awareness campaign for women about heart disease, high blood pressure and lack of exercise round out the risk factors that increase a woman’s chances for developing heart disease.

“Heart disease is brewed over decades and its impact can be devastating,” Dr. Rabadán-Diehl said during a telephone conference call. “We (Latinas) have to empower ourselves (with knowledge). It’s critical that we take charge of our own risk assessment. It’s never too late or too early to prevent heart disease.”

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