Heart disease risk factors are widespread among Hispanic/Latino adults in the United States, with 80 percent of men and 71 percent of women having at least one risk factor for heart disease, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS-SOL) is the largest study to date to examine the prevalence of heart disease risk factors—high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and smoking—within a diverse Hispanic/Latino population.
Findings from HCHS-SOL also showed that the prevalence of risk factors varies across and within Hispanic/Latino populations. For example, people of Puerto Rican background experienced higher rates of heart disease risk factors compared to other Hispanic/Latino groups.
Participants who were more acculturated (born in the United States or lived in the United States for 10 years or longer or preferred using English rather than Spanish) were significantly more likely to have three or more risk factors as well as self-reported heart disease or stroke. And those with lower education or with annual incomes less than $20,000 were more likely to have multiple heart disease risk factors than those with higher education and incomes.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Hispanic/Latino people in the United States, so it was critical to conduct a study that looked at the burden of heart disease risk factors in specific populations,” said Larissa Aviles-Santa, M.D., M.P.H., project officer for HCHS/SOL in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, part of the NIH.
HCHS-SOL is a multi-center, prospective, population-based study that includes more than 16,000 Hispanic/Latino adults of different backgrounds—including Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central American, and South American—between the ages of 18 and 74.
The participants were recruited from randomly selected households in four U.S. communities: the New York City borough of the Bronx, Chicago, Miami, and San Diego. Participants underwent an extensive baseline examination and also completed questionnaires about their medical history, lifestyle, education, annual income, and acculturation. Data were collected from participants between March 2008 and June 2011 and then analyzed.
“The results of the HCHS-SOL study show the need to implement education and lifestyle change programs to lessen the burden of heart disease risk factors among Hispanic/Latino people, starting at early ages,” said Martha Daviglus, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator for the HCHS-SOL Chicago site, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University, and director of the Institute for Minority Health Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“A better understanding of the relationship between traditional lifestyles, acculturation, and development of cardiovascular disease over time will provide us with the information needed to create programs that will reduce the burden of cardiovascular risk factors among Hispanics/Latinos,” said Greg Talavera, M.D., M.P.H, principal investigator for the HCHS-SOL San Diego site and professor at the San Diego State University.
Findings from this phase of the study include self-reported history of heart disease and stroke, and clinically measured risk factors. The study team will continue to follow the participants to learn how risk factors change over time and how they influence the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
HCHS-SOL activities were conducted by more than 250 staff members at four field centers affiliated with San Diego State University, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and the University of Miami. The Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill provided additional support.
HCHS-SOL is supported by the NHLBI and six other NIH institutes and offices, including the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the Office of Dietary Supplements.
HCHS-SOL is supported by contracts from the NHLBI to the University of North Carolina (N01-HC65233), University of Miami (N01-HC65234), Albert Einstein College of Medicine (N01-HC65235), Northwestern University (N01-HC65236), and San Diego State University (N01-HC65237).