Cholesterol and Hispanic Women: An Issue of the Heart

Cholesterol and Hispanic Women: An Issue of the Heart



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–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – CONTEXTO LATINO)–September 25, 2007–According to a survey from the American Heart Association (AHA), Hispanic women were less likely than white or black women to identify heart disease as the leading cause of death in women. In addition, among Mexican-Americans, more than 12% of women have high cholesterol levels , while Hispanic women in general are less likely to engage in physical activity compared to non-Hispanic white and black women. These factors, reflect the need for more cholesterol awareness to prevent cardiovascular disease among Latinas.

“Latinas need to empower themselves with knowledge on what steps should be taken to control their cholesterol levels and help their families maintain a healthy heart,” stated Dr. Eliscer Guzman, MD cardiologist with the Centro Medico Dominicano in New York. “Hispanic women play an important role in their community as the caretakers of the family. As such they need to encourage their families to go to the doctor and get their cholesterol screened on a regular basis.”

According to a 2005 study from the Center for Disease Control, more then 50 percent of Hispanics reported that they had their cholesterol screened in the previous five years. Although this is a promising figure, they still lag behind whites by almost 25 percent (52 percent vs.76 percent). To keep up the positive momentum, it’s important for Latinas, as gatekeepers, to know the risk factors of cardiovascular disease.

What are the effects of high cholesterol?

When LDL cholesterol enters the damaged wall of the artery it changes and can lead to inflammation. Over time, this process of oxidation and inflammation in the artery wall creates something known as an arterial plaque. This can be happening in a number of different sites around the body and can get progressively worse over time.

— This chronic process, known as atherosclerosis, can have a number of outcomes – depending on whether the plaque is stable or unstable.

— A stable plaque can continue to grow, slowly reducing blood flow over time, but does not necessarily completely block the artery.

— If a small plaque becomes unstable and ruptures, exposing its contents, it is much more dangerous than a stable plaque. A clot forms and this can completely block the flow of blood.

High Risk vs. Low Risk

High cholesterol is one of the key factors that can place someone at greater risk for having heart disease, if it is not managed properly. The good news is that there are many ways to lower the risk of developing heart disease, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and taking medication, if necessary, to help manage cholesterol levels. Cholesterol goals are different for each person, so it is important to discuss your goals with your health care professional.

What can you do?

Exercise

— Remember to consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program

— Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease with a more active lifestyle vi

— Experts recommend 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week vii

Eat right

— Know the calorie content of the foods and beverages you consume

— Replace animal fats with vegetable oils

— Use vegetable oil or olive oil instead of butter or lard

— Replace high-calorie foods with fruit and vegetables

— Eat more fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken (skinless), and lean meats; whole-grain cereals, pastas, and rice.

— Watch what you eat

— Lower your intake of sugars, starches, daily sodium intake and alcohol

— Select milk and dairy products that are either fat-free or low-fat

— Limit portion size

Maintain a healthy weight

— Work with your doctor to determine your ideal weight

— Lose excess weight to help lower high cholesterol levels

Get Checked

— Since having high cholesterol levels does not cause any symptoms, it’s important to visit your doctor and get blood work at least once every 5 years. If you have other risk factors for coronary heart disease such as hypertension, you might be required to get blood work more frequently.

— As a family, make a commitment to talk to a doctor and develop an action plan to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Visit http://www.corazonsaludablecuenta.com, download and print La Promesa del Corazon, which will help you follow the plan that was determined by your doctor to maintain healthy cholesterol levels

When is medication needed?

— If diet and exercise aren’t enough to reach the desired cholesterol levels, your doctor may decide to add medication to your daily routine to help bring cholesterol levels to the desired number

It is important to remember that medicine is not a cure-all. A healthy diet and regular exercise are important to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. To learn more about keeping your heart healthy, please talk to your doctor and visit http://www.corazonsaludablecuenta.com or call 1-800-236-9933.

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Cholesterol and Hispanic Women: An Issue of the Heart