5 Common Health Concerns for Hispanics

Health concerns and risks are not the same for everyone across the board. Some groups have higher rates of certain diseases than others, and Hispanic people are no different. Read on to see what health issues have become disproportionately represented in this community, and what you can do to protect yourself.

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Andy Manganaro, MD, FACS, FACC

Published on 4/2/2021

Why are Hispanic health issues different?

There are two main reasons different races and nationalities face different health struggles. The first is genetics. Everyone's DNA is different, but certain markers are shared by people who share a common ancestry. These genetic differences make certain people less likely to develop certain health issues and more likely to develop others.

The second reason is lifestyle. Broadly speaking, people of the same racial group tend to share a common culture. Two aspects of culture include overall activity level and diet, which are two of the most important factors when assessing health risk.

Different lifestyles also explain the difference between people of the same racial background who grow up in different parts of the world. Someone who is Mexican-born in the United States may have a significantly different daily routine than someone who is born and raised in Mexico.

The biggest Hispanic health disparities

While everyone is different, there are five growing trends in the Hispanic population that people should be aware of. These are serious health issues, but making the right choices and staying aware of your health will dramatically reduce your risk of having a life-threatening condition.

Chronic Liver Disease

Hispanics have been found to be at a higher risk for developing some forms of liver disease. Not only that, but they also tend to contract more aggressive forms of cancer and have overall worse health outcomes than other patients.

Chronic liver disease, or cirrhosis, occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and prevents the liver from functioning as it should. The liver is responsible for removing toxins from the body, among other things, and so when it fails the results are often fatal.

The most common reasons for developing chronic liver disease are alcohol abuse, hepatitis, and fatty liver disease, which is caused by a combination of high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Similar to chronic liver disease, Hispanics are also at a greater risk to develop kidney disease. American Hispanics specifically are 150% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than other Americans.

Kidneys are responsible for removing waste and extra water from the body, as well as making new red blood cells and controlling blood pressure. Kidneys can be damaged from either physical trauma or from certain health conditions. One of the biggest contributors to CKD is diabetes, which is extremely prevalent in the Hispanic population (more on that below).

While chronic kidney disease is not reversible, catching it early and making the necessary adjustments can slow the progression of the disease or stop it altogether.

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As we mentioned, diabetes is particularly high in the Hispanic population. 17% of Hispanic Americans develop diabetes, compared to 8% of non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes at a younger age and suffer from more severe complications.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed at birth, type 2 diabetes is developed later in life due to other health issues. Some of the conditions most closely linked to diabetes development include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Each of these is linked to one another and is significantly impacted by a person's lifestyle.

Life Line Screening offers a simple diabetes test (A1C panel) that's done with just a finger prick

High blood pressure

While high blood pressure is closely linked with diabetes, it is far from the only cause. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can also be caused by high cholesterol, obesity, and other factors. According to several studies, Hispanics have a disproportionately high incidence of high blood pressure.

These same studies find that the overall population is understudied, and because of that, the rate could be even higher than thought. The biggest concern is that those who have high blood pressure aren't getting the diagnoses they need, which means they aren't being put on any kind of treatment plan. As we mentioned, high blood pressure can lead to many other health complications, including heart attack and stroke.

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Across the board, Hispanic men and women are more likely to be obese than their white counterparts. Perhaps more than any other factor on this list, obesity can be controlled by making the right diet and lifestyle choices.

Obesity is also a significant contributor to the other health risk factors on this list, including high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes.

The best ways to maintain a healthy weight are to get regular physical exercise throughout the week and to stick to a healthy, balanced diet.

The Bottom Line

Everyone's health journey is different, but it's important to know where you stand. Life Line Screening offers a comprehensive suite of preventive screenings that can help you take control of your health. You can schedule a kidney function test, type 2 diabetes test, a cholesterol test, and much more. Click below to find a screening location near you.

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