It’s estimated that one in three American adults has high cholesterol—a major risk factor for heart disease. However, risk factors like high cholesterol are especially common in minority populations, putting them at increased risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Since high cholesterol often causes no symptoms, many adults are unaware of their condition.
Nearly 60% of middle-aged Latino adults have high cholesterol, yet only half are aware of this, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
To learn more about high cholesterol trends among Latinos, researchers analyzed data from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. The study included more than 16,000 U.S. adults from four cities in California, Chicago, New York and Miami. Individuals represented major Hispanic and Latino background groups including Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Central Americans, Dominicans and South Americans.
Between 2008 and 2011, participants between the ages of 18 and 74 underwent screenings for major cardiovascular risk factors, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Subjects also completed questionnaires about their background, health, and awareness of certain medical conditions. For example, participants reported whether they had ever been diagnosed with high cholesterol and if so, whether or not they were receiving treatment for the condition.
After analysis, researchers found that high cholesterol was extremely common among Latinos. Roughly one-third of Latino adults between the ages of 18 and 44 had high cholesterol, as did nearly 60% of adults between 45 and 64 years old. Perhaps most concerning, only half of the adults with high cholesterol were aware of their condition, less than one-third of whom were receiving treatment. The good news is that among Latino adults receiving treatment for high cholesterol, 65% had their condition under control.
Based on these findings, it’s clear that efforts are needed to increase high cholesterol awareness among Latino adults. Not only is high cholesterol especially common among Latinos, awareness and treatment of the condition is severely lacking. Through further research, education and support, experts hope to increase awareness of cardiovascular risk factors like high cholesterol and promote better health among Latino populations.