Ethnicity and Heart Disease: Is There a Link?
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in American adults, but some ethnic groups may face a greater risk than others. There are many factors that can influence your risk—some are inherited, while others are related to your lifestyle habits, behaviors and customs. Where you live, your socioeconomic status and your access to quality healthcare can also affect your risk.
Although some of these variables can be influenced by your heritage, it doesn’t mean you are automatically at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease based solely on your race or ethnicity. Even if you can’t change inherited risks or some factors related to where and how you live, you can take steps to reduce your overall risk of heart disease by making better lifestyle choices, such as eating healthy, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.
Here are some general statistics about cardiovascular disease by ethnicity:
- Nearly half of African-American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, compared to about one-third of Caucasians.
- African-Americans are more likely to have high blood pressure and develop it at an earlier age. They’re also almost twice as likely as Caucasians to have a stroke and die from it.
- Hispanics are more likely to have cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and diabetes.
- More than 75 percent of Hispanic adults over age 20 are overweight or obese.
- Recent immigrants from East Asian countries tend to have lower rates of heart disease than other Americans.
- Risk rises for Asian Americans born in the U.S. who adopt more Western habits, which can lead to an increase in cardiac risk factors such as obesity.
- Thirty-six percent of American Indians who die from heart disease are under age 65, compared to only 17 percent of the overall U.S. population.
- Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease among American Indians.
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Date Last Reviewed: February 9, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD