According to the American Heart Association, 48 percent of Hispanic men and 32 percent of Hispanic women suffer from cardiovascular disease (CVD). It continues to be one of the leading causes of death. Hispanics are also at a higher risk for CVD than Caucasians, and yet despite this are less aware of their risk factors. A 2015 study found that nearly half of Hispanic adults were unaware they have high cholesterol, and less than a third received any cholesterol treatment. This is an alarming void of education and awareness within the Hispanic community for patients, physicians and caregivers. It’s one that is not only unfortunate or inconvenient; it can be life-threatening.
For this Hispanic Heritage Month – and throughout the entire year – we must shed light on the critical need in the Hispanic community for greater access to CVD care and increased advocacy. By doing this, we can work to improve the health and wellness of our population.
Access to care, prevention and diagnosis education, and innovative therapies are some of the crucial issues for Hispanics and their heart health. Hispanic patients are either unaware of or unable to get access to cholesterol lowering treatments, such as statins or the breakthrough PCSK9 inhibitors, they so desperately need. The inhibitors target and inactivate a particular liver protein and reduce the negative LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.
The National Hispanic Medical Association is acutely aware of these challenges and works with over 50,000 Hispanic physician members across the country to raise awareness about CVD and empower them to help their patients. It’s only through increased awareness that this problem can begin to be met with accurate and targeted health care.
Efforts to increase awareness, as well as access to care and innovative CVD therapies, are more important than ever for the Hispanic community. We should all have an ongoing and broader dialogue to create greater health equity and improve cardiovascular health for Hispanic populations. It’s an essential conversation to have as a community, and not just as individuals. Physicians, patients, and advocates must all work together to achieve these goals together.
Elena Rios, President & CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association, [email protected]