Study identifies ways to help Hispanic and Latino adults reduce the risk of stroke

A physician speaks to a patient in an exam room while maintaining social distance and wearing a mask.

To help patients reduce the risk of stroke, a physician may prescribe multiple prevention tactics: eating a heart-healthy diet and getting regular exercise; managing elevated blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol; and treating underlying conditions, like sleep apnea, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm. A study in the journal Stroke found that among 404 Hispanic or Latino middle-aged adults in the United States who survived a stroke, almost all adults had at least one modifiable risk factor for a recurrence. Half of study participants had at least four. The study authors shared associations from this study that may inform public health strategies to support the cardiovascular health outcomes for Hispanic and Latino adults, such as post-stroke nutritional counseling or expanding access to health care.

For example, one in three participants in this study, which is part of the NHLBI-supported Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, had diabetes. Most adults (83%) were aware of the diagnosis, but only half (54%) took medication. Uncontrolled diabetes was more common among adults who were born or lived in the United States for at least 10 years. Older study participants also had a higher chance of having diabetes and high blood pressure. Other associations emerged: More than half of study participants had high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Women were more likely to have uncontrolled levels of high cholesterol. Access to health care was associated with the use of statins, a class of drugs that help lower cholesterol levels in the blood. 

In addition to accessing health care, the authors cited language barriers and mistrust of the medical system as factors contributing to health disparities. They also shared research that found nearly 90% of risks for stroke, a leading cause of disability and a major cause of death in the United States, can be modified.