Heart disease is the second leading cause of death among men and women in the Hispanic-Latino community. It is estimated that 27% of men and 32% of women within this population will be diagnosed with the disorder at some point during their lifetime.
Heart disease is any type of chronic condition that affects or causes abnormalities in the heart. Conditions may include congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease or arrhythmias. Heart disease can lead to life-threatening complications such as stroke, heart attacks and hypertension.
Hispanics and Latinos face higher risks of developing heart disease because of steadily increasing numbers in obesity, diabetes and hypertension. It is important to know how these factors contribute to the development of heart disease.
Congestive heart failure and coronary heart disease are common in people who are obese. A person who is obese is typically 40% over their recommended Body Mass Index (BMI). Research has shown that as BMI increases so does the probability of having heart disease. Extra weight requires the heart to work harder to meet the body’s needs. Therefore, the heart grows larger and has to work harder to pump more blood. Being obese can also increase cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which will increase the risks of developing heart disease.
An estimated 30% of Hispanic-Latino adults have diabetes and 50% of these cases go untreated. Diabetes left untreated can lead to heart disease. People with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to have plaque deposits in their blood, causing it to clot. Blood clots can block arteries and trigger heart attacks. Type 2 diabetics are two to six times more likely than non-diabetics to have heart attacks.
Unmanaged hypertension or high blood pressure can cause the walls of the blood vessels to thicken, which restricts blood flow to the heart and throughout the body. This can damage the heart in several ways. Obstructed or thickened vessels over time can increase the chances of a heart attack. High blood pressure can also weaken the heart, which may lead to heart failure.
Heart disease can be prevented and controlled. Knowing individual risks, adopting a healthy lifestyle and having regular check-ups is a good start. Once diagnosed, heart disease can be effectively treated with proper medication, dietary changes, smoking cessation and stress management.
If complications persist you should make an appointment to speak with a cardiologist about your heart health. To obtain more information about cardiology services offered at Jamaica Hospital or to make an appointment, call 718-206-7050.
By Dr. Roseann Spiotta.