Almost 43 million women in the U.S. are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and it is the leading cause of death of American women. Among Hispanic-American women, nearly one in three has CVD; in fact, cardiovascular disease causes more deaths for Hispanic-Americans than all forms of cancer combined. These women also tend to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics.
Despite the increased risk, only one in three Hispanic-American women is aware that heart disease is her greatest threat. Many of the known risk factors for heart disease – high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, diabetes, physical inactivity and being overweight – are prevalent among Hispanic-American women. Also, they are more likely than Caucasian women to have prehypertension, meaning their blood pressure is higher than ideal but not yet in the hypertension range (between 120/80 and 140/90).
The frequency of diabetes also is twice as high among Hispanic-American women. About 11 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes, and another 5 percent have diabetes but are not aware of it. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications including cardiovascular disease.
Not only are Hispanic-American women at a high risk for CVD, they are also nearly three times as likely as Caucasian women to be uninsured, and less likely to have an established primary care physician. Other factors, such as language barriers and lack of transportation, can make it difficult to see a physician on a regular basis. Culturally, Hispanic-American women may be less likely to seek medical care for themselves than for their families, and often delay visits to the doctor or stop treatment when they feel better.
By partnering with a physician who understands their personal and cultural heart care needs, Hispanic-American women can lower their risk of heart disease and learn to adopt healthy prevention strategies.
Scripps Women’s Heart Center provides heart care for women, by women. Our female cardiologists are experts in cardiology and integrative medicine, and specialize in female heart disease. We’re dedicated to empowering women to take care of their hearts through education, lifestyle and, when needed, expert medical care.