Health Concerns in the Hispanic Community

October 09, 2019

Denver Health Patient with Doctor

As we welcome the fall weather, changing leaf colors and start of the fall season, we have the opportunity to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. From September 15 – October 15, several Latin American countries celebrate independence, and in America, we can celebrate the wonderful culture influence those with Hispanic ancestors contribute to our society.

Within the Hispanic community, there are several health issues and some trends to be aware of to make sure that our patients are doing everything they can to stay as healthy as possible.

Health Trends in Hispanic Communities

There are interesting health trends that are noted in the Hispanic/Latino communities when compared to Caucasians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hispanic people are:

  • Twice as likely to have high blood pressure
  • 24% more likely to suffer from poorly controlled blood pressure
  • 23% more likely to experience obesity
  • More likely to die from complications of diabetes or liver disease (from viruses or from a condition where obesity affects the liver)
  • 23% more obese
  • 28% less likely to be screened for colon cancer

The CDC found that Hispanic people born outside the United States have:

  • Around half the amount of cancer and heart disease
  • Are 29% less likely to have high blood pressure problems

Unique Health Screening

For those in the Hispanic community who are not born in the U.S., there are other specific health screenings doctors recommend:

  • Tuberculosis exposure screening (a bacteria that typically is found in the lungs). Knowing this information may lead to curing cases of non-active forms of this infection before it becomes more serious.
  • Hepatitis exposure screening (viruses that affect the liver). This helps to prevent treatable liver disease.

Health Maintenance

Given these trends, you can see how important it is for medical providers to focus on diabetes and obesity prevention as well as treatment and monitoring of liver issues and blood pressure problems. A few steps to follow include:

  • Monitor weight closely. When there are increases in your weight, this can inspire you to make changes to diet and exercise.
  • If you have a family member with diabetes, obesity or blood pressure problems, it is a good idea for you to be seen by a primary care provider for screening.
  • Take opportunities to measure your blood pressure at a clinic, health fair or grocery store. High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” as there are typically minimal symptoms of this condition until there is a heart attack or stroke.
  • All people in the US, regardless of ethnicity, should start considering colon cancer screening at age 50 (sometimes sooner based on your family history).

Prescription for Healthy Living

To maintain good health and prevent complications from very common problems, we recommend these three easy steps:

  • Purchase a scale to monitor your weight
  • Take steps to reduce the sugar in your diet (eliminate soda and juice)
  • Exercise a little more, and eat a little less

Celebration of Hispanic Heritage

We are lucky at Denver Health to be able to care for those in the Hispanic/Latino community. We are able to see on a daily basis the value and importance placed on family and social bonds that is universal. We look forward to working with all our patients to eliminate health problems through prevention, rather than just treatment after the health problem has developed.

Nicholas Breitnauer, M.D., is a primary care physician at Denver Health's Federico F. Peña Southwest Family Health Center, one of nine Family Health Centers for Denver Health patients of all ages located throughout the city.

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Topics: Primary Care