Health Risks Differ Among Hispanics in the US


Hispanic-health-smThe latest CDC Vital Signs is CDC’s first national study on Hispanics’ leading causes of death, disease prevalence, risk factors, and access to health services in the United States. Hispanics are the biggest racial/ethnic minority group in the U. S. Currently, almost one in six individuals residing in the U. S. is Hispanic (almost 57 million) and this is projected to increase to almost one in four (more than 85 million) by 2035. The report used recent national census and health surveillance and mortality data to determine variations among whites, Hispanics, and Hispanic subgroups.

As with non-Hispanic whites, the two leading causes of death for Hispanics are heart disease and cancer, accounting for two out of five deaths. Compared with whites, Hispanics have lower death rates for most leading causes of death, but are about 50% more likely to die from diabetes or liver disease and cirrhosis.

Despite lower overall death rates, the study found that some Hispanics may face challenges in getting the care needed to protect their health. Some important social factors include educational level, living below the poverty line, not speaking English very well, and being uninsured.

The report emphasizes that Hispanics are not all alike: health behaviors (such as smoking cigarettes) and health outcomes differ by country of birth and self-declared cultural heritage. U. S. -born Hispanics had higher prevalences of obesity, smoking, heart disease, and cancer than foreign-born Hispanics.

Ways to enhance the health of Hispanics include:

Medical home—a doctor they can reliably go to for help;
Lay community health employees (promotores de salud) to guide Hispanics to needed care by doctors and nurses;
Communication in Spanish, including health education materials and, for patients who need them, interpreting services.

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Vital Signs is a CDC report that appears on the first Tuesday of the month as part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, or MMWR. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators. These are cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, motor vehicle passenger safety, prescription drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, alcohol use, healthcare-associated infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, and food safety.