When it comes to risk factors for heart disease, is your ethnic heritage really a risk factor in developing heart disease? Does race really matter? Are you at a greater risk for developing heart disease simply because of the color of you skin?
The answer is of some interest to me. I come from a melting pot family of seven children - three girls and four boys (And no, my parents weren’t Catholic – there just apparently wasn’t a lot to do in the winter time in a one horse town in the middle of west Texas!) Of the seven of us, one sister is Hispanic and one brother is African-American in their ethnic heritage. The rest of us are Irish-German-Dutch-Scots (you get the picture – we’re just plain American mongrel mutts). We also have a strong history of heart disease and heart disease risk factors – obesity, chronic high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels (even when we weigh a proper amount), and family history of death due to heart disease.
You know siblings – we share and share alike (well, sometimes we share!). While we may have different ethnic heritages, unfortunately we do share many of the same risk factors for heart disease. As the leader-of-the-pack, it fell to me to find out just how the things that we don’t share (like race) may tip the heart attack scales for some of us. Since one of my beloved sisters is Hispanic, I wanted to look at the impact of race, if any, for Hispanic women when it comes to developing heart related disease.
Conventional medical thought has been that for women in particular, race does matter. Consider the following facts from the American Heart Association about heart disease in Hispanic women:
•Leading cause of death for all Hispanics (men and women combined).
•For women, heart related disease is responsible for more than 32 percent of all deaths in Hispanic women.
•Almost 30 percent of Hispanic women have already developed heart disease by age 20.
When it comes to risk factors for heart disease, Hispanic woman don’t fare well as all:
•Obesity – More than 70 percent of Hispanic women are overweight by age 20.