Heart Disease and Latinas

Time to take control of your health

By Edie J. Adler
Published on LatinoLA: February 20, 2004

Heart Disease and Latinas

This article is dedicated to Latinas of all ages, and the men who love them. Do you women worry that heart disease will strike your husbands, fathers, male friends and even your sons but not you? If you do, think again. Since 1984 heart disease has killed more women than men.

Do you worry about breast cancer? The truth is, cardiovascular disease claims the lives of more women than all forms of cancer combined.

Heart Disease and Stroke Facts about Latinas:
-- Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death for Latinos.
-- Heart disease and stroke are responsible for 33 percent of deaths in Latinas.
-- The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in Mexican-American women age 20 and older is 26.6 percent.
-- High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. The prevalence of high blood pressure for Mexican-American women over 20 years old is 22.4 percent.
-- Stroke is the No. 3 cause of death for Latinas, behind heart disease and cancer. It?s also a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.
-- 12.3 percent of Latinas 18 and older smoke, putting themselves at increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
-- The risk of heart disease increases with physical inactivity. Physical inactivity is more prevalent in women, African-Americans and Latinos. 57.4 percent of Latinas 18 and older are physically inactive.
-- 71.9 percent of Mexican-American women ages 20 and older are overweight or obese.

The American Heart Association?s Guidelines At-A-Glance for Preventing Heart Disease and Stroke in Women:

-- Prevention should be tailored to a woman?s individual level of risk for cardiovascular events, determined by her caregiver.
-- Smoking cessation, regular physical activity, a heart-healthy diet and weight maintenance are given a strong priority in all women.
-- ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers are recommended for all high-risk women.
-- High-risk women should be prescribed statin therapy even if their LDL cholesterol levels are below 100 mg/dL.
-- Niacin and fibrate therapies are given a strong recommendation for high-risk women with specific cholesterol abnormalities.
-- Aspirin is recommended for prevention in all high-risk women and is not recommended for low-risk women. For intermediate-risk women, aspirin can be considered as long as blood pressure is controlled and the benefit is likely to outweigh the risk of side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke.
-- Blood pressure-lowering drugs are recommended when blood pressure is greater than or equal to 140/90. Diuretics should be part of the drug regimen for more patients unless contraindicated. The blood pressure should be maintained at less than 130/80 when a woman has blood pressure-related target end-organ damage or diabetes.
-- Women with atrial fibrillation and intermediate or high risk for embolic stroke should take warfarin. If they cannot take warfarin, or if they are at low risk, they should be given aspirin.
-- Women with diabetes must have their blood sugar carefully controlled, as defined by achieving near-normal glycosylated hemoglobin levels (less than 0.7 percent).
-- Hormone therapy and antioxidant vitamin supplements are not recommended for CVD prevention for women at any level of risk.
-- Women with cardiovascular disease should be evaluated for depression and treated or referred for treatment when indicated.

In addition to a heart-healthy diet, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid may be considered in some high-risk women.

Source: American Heart Association Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics ? 2003 Update

About Edie J. Adler:
Edie J. Adler is a LatinoLA regular contributor, and the Latino Media Director at the American Heart Association. For additional information, contact the American Heart Association at (888) MY-HEART (694 ? 3278) or http://visit

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