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Diseases that Affect the Latino Community

Protecting your health for the future starts with making changes today.

Did you know that the Latino/a community is affected by certain diseases that occur in much higher rates than in any other ethnic group?

Protecting your health for the future starts with making changes today. Researching which diseases you may be at risk for and implementing preventative measures in your daily life will significantly decrease your chance of developing certain diseases.

Today we’re going to take a look at some diseases that affect the Latino/a community and how you can prevent them.

Diseases

Obesity

While obesity on its own is not a disease, being obese or overweight significantly increases your chances of developing chronic conditions later in life. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 40 percent of Latino/as in the United States are overweight, and of that percentage, 27 percent are obese. This makes the Latino/a ethnic group the most overweight and the second most obese. We’ve listed diseases that you’re at risk for if you’re overweight or obese below.

  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Reproductive problems
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Cancer

The best preventative measure you can take against obesity is to start a proactive routine. A recent study published by Harvard Health indicated that Latino/as are less likely to seek medical advice when considering important lifestyle changes or when experiencing troubling health symptoms. If you’re concerned about your future health or the health of a loved one, seek the professional opinion of a physician. Don’t risk your health. Making small, reasonable changes to your everyday routine can have immense effects. Consider 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, as recommended by the Surgeon General, and you’ll reap significant benefits.

Chronic Liver Disease or Cirrhosis

Chronic Liver Disease occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, adversely affecting the liver’s ability to function properly. This disease disproportionately affects the Latino/a community over other ethnic groups and is currently the number six cause of death among Latino/as. Some causes include Hepatitis and other viruses, alcohol abuse and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (resulting often from metabolic syndrome or high blood pressure). If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms listed below, seek the immediate attention of a physician for diagnosis.

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes, or jaundice
  • Muscle loss
  • Bruising
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Constant itching
  • Spider veins

Prevention begins with recognizing the conditions that often precede chronic liver disease, including metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These diseases are often accompanied by obesity, which as previously mentioned significantly increases your chances of developing chronic conditions.
Hepatitis, one of the most common and most preventable causes, occurs when there’s an exchange of bodily fluids with an infected sexual partner or use of contaminated needles for drugs or tattoos. It’s important to note that not all types of hepatitis cause liver scarring, only types B and C. To protect against hepatitis, practice safe sex and keep an open dialogue with your partners about regular testing.

HIV/AIDS

In 2010, Latino/as in the United States accounted for 21 percent of new incidents of HIV infection despite making up only 16 percent of the total population. These rates are contributed to by a number of factors, including socio-economic standing and language barriers (that may prevent proper education about the disease).
Latino/as have the greatest prevalence of HIV/AIDS than any other ethnic group. In fact, every 1 out of 36 Latino men and every 1 out of 108 Latina women will be diagnosed with the disease. This means you likely know someone who has been affected by HIV, either directly or indirectly, and even further reason to ensure you and your loved ones have received proper education surrounding safe sex and testing.

Stat Emergency Center of Laredo wants you and your loved ones to stay safe and healthy. We encourage out patients to take charge of their health and speak with their physician about implementing proactive changes in their daily routine. Visit the CDC for more information about diseases in the Latino/a community and what you can do to prevent them.

Let us know how you protect your health and wellness, whether through exercise or diet!