Heart Diseases Clues by Ethnicity

Couple Cooking togetherThe U.S. is a very ethnically diverse country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the country’s population includes 0.2 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, 1.3 percent American Indian/Alaska Natives, 5.8 percent Asian Americans, 13.4 percent African Americans and 18.1 percent Hispanic/Latinos. The heart disease facts for different ethnicities fall into a wide range. While Asian and Hispanic Americans are actually less likely to die from heart disease than white adults, the other ethnic groups – Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, American Indians/Alaska Natives and African Americans – are considerably more likely to have high blood pressure, be diagnosed with coronary heart disease, or die from heart disease.

Heart Disease Facts by Race

While only a small segment of the population, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders are four times more likely to die from stroke compared to non-Hispanic whites. This ethnic group is also more likely to have high blood pressure than their white counterparts. American Indian/Alaska Natives are more likely to be obese, have high blood pressure, and smoke cigarettes – all of which are contributing risk factors for heart disease. Heart disease is the first and stroke the sixth leading cause of death among this population.

African Americans have especially high chances of developing heart disease and tend to have higher rates of risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease, including cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, obesity and diabetes.

Asian and Hispanic Americans are less likely to die from heart disease compared to whites. This lower rate among Asians can be attributed to lower rates of cigarette smoking, hypertension, and being overweight or obese.

Overcoming the Statistics of Heart Disease Facts

Some risk factors for developing heart disease cannot be changed, such as race, age or family history. But others — including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity — can be prevented and controlled. The following lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease:

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can double the chances of developing heart disease.
  • Manage cholesterol. Aim for a total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL and triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL.
  • Control high blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure (hypertension) can increase the workload on the heart, making it thicker and not work properly.
  • Exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.
  • Control weight. Excess body fat, especially around the waist, can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Check for diabetes. Blood sugar levels should be monitored regularly, especially if there is a history of diabetes in the family.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Food can affect cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure and weight. Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, limit salt, processed meat or commercially produced foods, and avoid or reduce sugar-sweetened drinks and snacks.

For more information about how to prevent heart disease, talk with your doctor or visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org.

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