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Mexican Americans more likely to die of heart disease than Caucasians

HONOLULU, April 25 For years, scientists have been puzzled by reports that Mexican Americans, who have high rates of obesity and diabetes, are less likely than Caucasians to die from heart disease. Now a new study challenges the so-called Hispanic paradox.

Researchers found higher rates of heart disease deaths in Mexican Americans than in non-Hispanic whites, according to a study presented today at the American Heart Associations Asia Pacific Scientific Forum.

Kelly J. Hunt, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, led the study that compared death rates of elderly Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. Researchers found that U.S.-born Mexican Americans were more likely to die from all causes than non-Hispanics, and more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanics. Mexico-born Hispanics were at least as likely to die, or to die from heart disease, as non-Hispanics.

We are not surprised by the results, but this is only one study, and it needs to be replicated in studies that follow individuals over time, says Hunt. However, if the Hispanic paradox is false, it is important to establish this.

Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the United States, and Mexican Americans are the largest sub-group of Hispanics. It is important not to underestimate the burden of disease in this population, says Hunt.

The Hispanic paradox is widely recognized by epidemiologists and public health researchers. It has been documented among Hispanics, but the enigma has been especially recognized among Mexican Americans. Nonetheless, there have been few studies of heart disease and cardiac mortality rates in which Hispanics born in Mexico and in the United States were compared with non-Hispanic whites.

Hunt and her colleagues compared all cause and heart-related death rates in 845 U.S.-born Mexican Americans, 182 Mexico-born Mexican Americans and 678 non-Hispanic white
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Contact: Carole Bullock
carole.bullock@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
25-Apr-2002


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