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Many Hispanic Women Unaware of Heart Disease Risk Factors

MONDAY, Jan. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Hispanic women tend to be less informed than white women about the link between being obese or overweight and increased risk for heart disease, a new study finds.

For the study, published recently in the Journal of Women's Health, the researchers reviewed answers provided by almost 400 Hispanic women and more than 300 white women about heart disease and body perception.

Although public awareness of heart disease has increased, the researchers found minority women still do not know as much as others about the risk factors for this significant health problem. This discrepancy makes efforts to prevent heart disease more challenging, said the research team from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

"Based on these findings, prevention strategies need to target [cardiovascular disease] knowledge and awareness among overweight and obese Hispanic women," Dr. Susan Kornstein, the journal's editor-in-chief and executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health, said in a journal news release.

When asked to identify the leading cause of death among women in the United States, only 27 percent of Hispanics knew the answer was heart disease compared to 88 percent of whites. Those with limited English were least likely to know that heart disease is the top U.S. killer.

Only 59 percent of Hispanic women knew the symptoms of heart attack versus 81 percent of white women. And many fewer Hispanics correctly estimated their weight compared to whites. Overweight and obesity raise the risk of developing serious health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

Among the study volunteers, 67 percent of Hispanics were overweight or obese versus 42 percent of whites.

More information

The American Heart Association provides more information on Hispanics and heart disease.

SOURCE: Journal of Women's Health, news release, Jan. 2, 2014