Hispanic Heart Health American Heart Association
From September 15 through October 15 National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed across America in celebration of the independence of several Latin American countries and the contributions that have infused America. The American Heart Association is passionate about celebrating and preserving culture and heritage by building lives free of heart disease and stroke – two leading causes of death a month Hispanic-Americans.
While the Hispanic identity is diverse, the rich Latino culture and heritage shares the experience of hard work, love of family, food and perseverance. Family health history and ethnic background play a large role in health. Along with cultural factors, environmental influences, education and economic status significancy impact their personal health.
Does this sound familiar? “I thought it couldn’t be true,” says Eva Gomez. “In my mind, I take care of other people. There’s no way that I will be the one who has to be cared for.”
Like many other Hispanic women, Eva spent her time as a caregiver for her family rather than thinking about herself. The result? Thirteen years of an ignored heart murmur.
Many Hispanic women have said that they are more likely to take preventative action for their families when it comes to heart health. However, they end up completely ignoring their own health in the process, and these acts of selflessness can become deadly.
Here are some stats:
• On average, Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics.
• Only 1 in 3 Hispanic women are aware that heart disease is their No. 1 killer.
Why Hispanic women?
While heart disease doesn’t discriminate, you could argue that it does have a bit of a penchant for racial bias where Hispanic and Latina women are concerned. And the statistics above are proof.
The firsthand challenges that face Hispanic women are that they take on the role of caregiver superwoman, catering to the needs of everyone but themselves. And that catering largely has to do with food. For Hispanic and Latina women, cooking for family is an act of love that can involve unhealthy pork products and lard. And the more they assimilate to American traditions, the quality of their diets really deteriorate.
Turn the corner to a heart healthy life
To address these issues, the American Heart Association launched Go Red Por Tu Corazón, which promotes a heart healthy lifestyle among Hispanic women, building on the strong ties to family and cultural traditions.
As a Hispanic woman, remember that your commitment to your family cannot be met unless you make a commitment to yourself first.
Today, Eva is more committed to her family than ever before, and is fiercely committed to putting her own health issues first.
“I Go Red for myself, my family and all Hispanic women,” Eva proudly declares.
Just like these ladies, you can reverse this trend in your own family – and in your own life. Being born Hispanic does not have to be synonymous with heart disease, or death. But in order to do that, you have to share the passion and love you have for your family with yourself.
Remember, one size does not fit all and this is not the exception when it comes the heart and brain health matters, but there’s one common denominator to reducing heart disease, stroke and its risk factors – awareness.