Salud Saturday: How Latinos Can Beat the Odds of Strokes & Diabetes

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Guest post by Laura Tellado (@Laurita86)

It’s only been six days since Valentine’s Day, and already experts are predicting a major spike in heart problems.

No, I’m not talking about the metaphorical heartaches often associated with the pitfalls of romance. Researchers from the University of Michigan presented their recent findings during the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference last week that strokes among Mexican-Americans are predicted to rise from 26,000 in 2010, to a whopping 120,000 in 2050. That’s an increase of 350 percent!

Add to those findings the fact that heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease are the leading causes of death among Latinos, and we can begin to realize why we have more than enough reasons to worry.

Furthermore, 11.8 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. are diagnosed with diabetes, which is one of the most serious risk factors for cardiovascular and heart disease.

And although the aforementioned findings zeroed in on Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans are leading the Latino nationalities in the percentage of people diagnosed with diabetes.

Of course, Latinos are also leading the charts with obesity, which is known to cause a whole host of problems, including increasing the risk of a stroke.

While it may seem like the odds are stacked against our favor, there are, in fact, things that we can do to keep strokes away. We can’t help the hereditary aspects of our health, but we can change our lifestyles in order to diminish the risk of diseases like these.

  • Eating a healthy diet and controlling meal portions is an important part of reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. A diet that is low in fat, sodium and cholesterol can go a long way in beating the odds.
  • Also, incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help you do much more than simply lose weight; it can decrease the risks of having a stroke, or of developing conditions that can, in turn, lead to a stroke. Remember, dancing is a form of exercise, so get out those salsa shoes y vete a rumbear!
  • For smokers, the odds of developing coronary heart disease are 2 to 4 times that of non-smokers, so putting that cigarette out is a good idea.

Yes, it’s true that approximately every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke—and every four minutes, someone dies of one. But, we are Latinos, and as we are prone to do, we can change the rhythm of this frightening trend. I’m confident we will. In fact, these are odds I am betting on.

ABOUT LAURA TELLADO: Laura is a journalist/blogger from Puerto Rico dedicated to
generate public awareness of Spina Bifida, a neural tube defect of the spinal cord that is the #1 cause of paralysis in children in America. Follow Laura on Twitter
@Laurita86. Read more about her campaign at her blog: http://holdinoutforahero.org/

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