Nearly half of Hispanics unaware they have high cholesterol

Nearly half of Hispanic adults were unaware they have high cholesterol, and less than a third receive any kind of cholesterol treatment, in a new study in Journal of the American Heart Association. Hispanics are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in America, with 52 million among the U.S. population, yet their awareness and management of high cholesterol lags behind other ethnic groups.

Educating Hispanics/Latinos about the importance of maintaining healthy cholesterol levels could have a significant public health impact on reducing the burden of heart disease in America. Researchers reviewed data from 16,415 Hispanics, between 18 to 75 years of age, who participated in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. They found: 49.3 percent of Hispanics were not aware that they had high cholesterol levels. Of those who were aware, only 29.5 percent received treatment.

High cholesterol was more common among men than women, 44 percent versus 40.5 percent. However, men had lower rates of cholesterol treatment compared with women, 28.1 percent versus 30.6 percent.

The 40 percent of participants were obese, 25 percent had high blood pressure and 17 percent had diabetes, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Younger adults, women, the uninsured, those with lower income, and more recent immigrants were less likely to have their high cholesterol controlled.

Hispanics born in the United States were more likely to be unaware of their high cholesterol compared with foreign-born Hispanics, however, longer U.S. residency was associated with cholesterol awareness, treatment and control.

“What’s more surprising is the lack of awareness, treatment and control. That needs to change since awareness is the first step in prevention,” said Carlos J. Rodriguez, M.D., M.P.H., study lead author and an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston Salem, North Carolina. In this study, treatment was effective in 64 percent of those treated, indicating that awareness and management can work in lowering cholesterol levels. Addressing these gaps is critical to reducing Hispanic/Latinos’ risks for high cholesterol, heart disease and heart attack and improving overall public health. “Lack of awareness is a problem with roots at different levels in Hispanics: access to care and patient/provider difficulties such as language barriers or cultural insensitivity may further contribute to these gaps,” he said.

The American Heart Association’s 2020 Impact goal is to improve cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases. Improving cholesterol levels among all Americans is a critical to reaching the goal.

Follow AHA/ASA news on Twitter @HeartNews.  www.heart.org/LittleRock

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