Mount Sinai Medical Center Physicians Debunk the 5 Key Myths about Heart Disease Among the Latino Community

Heart Disease is the Main Cause of Death Among Hispanics

 – February 1, 2011 /Press Release/  –– 

New York, NY, February 1st, 2011 - February is American Heart Month, which is an ideal opportunity to speak to the Hispanic community about heart disease and stroke, both of which are leading causes of death for them.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly one quarter of Hispanic deaths are attributed to cardiovascular disease and stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death among Hispanics. While factors that contribute to increased risk of developing heart disease are generally the same in Latinos as for the total population, there are some beliefs or myths among the Latino community which may contribute to high risk.  A team of experts from Mount Sinai Heart, considered among the world's leading centers for cardiovascular medicine and advanced diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, have come together to analyze and then debunk the five most common myths about heart disease prevalence in the Latino community

Myth # 1 – Since one of my parents had a heart attack; I am likely to have one too
False. You are at greater risk for heart disease if your parents or siblings had a heart problem, but heredity is just one of many other risk factors that can be treated to reduce your risk of heart disease. According to Dr. Jose Wiley, Cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine  at Mount Sinai, "The major risk factors that increase your risk of heart disease and stroke are: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, stress and excessive alcohol consumption." Dr. Wiley added, "Key modifications such as the following can lower your heart disease risk dramatically:  lower your cholesterol, follow a heart healthy eating plan; do not smoke; exercise and maintain a healthy weight."

Myth # 2 - Heart attacks are more common among men
False. Deaths from heart attacks are more likely to occur in women than men. According to The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, heart disease is the number one killer of Latinas in the United States. Latina women in particular, play a pivotal role. They often run the household, work full-time, take care of extended family and make many of the family and household decisions.  Since they are juggling so many things at once, they are likely not caring for themselves as they should.  According to Dr. Samer Kottiech, Cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine   at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, "Women have smaller hearts and arteries than a man and more damage is likely to occur with a heart attack than that in a man."  Kottiech concluded, "Because the symptoms in women are different than those in men, and can be considered "mild", their warning signs  can be mistakenly overlooked  by the woman herself or thought of  as "coming down with the flu," being overly tired, or having indigestion."

Myth # 3 – Pain in the chest and numbness of the arms are always a sign of a heart attack
False. The symptoms of a heart attack in women often differ from those in a man. Dr. Pedro Moreno, Cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says, "Women are 50% more likely to have a heart attack then men.  And, at least 2/3 of women who die from heart attacks had no prior symptoms."  He added, "Men experience chest pain during a heart attack, but signs of a heart attack in women lean toward the other simpler symptoms such as dizziness and shortness of breath."  It is possible for some women to experience discomfort in the middle of their chest, although this is not present in all patients. Specific signs of heart attack in women include pain in upper body parts, such as the arm, back, shoulder and jaw.  Other symptoms are shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, indigestion and dizziness.

Myth # 4 - I'm young, I don't have to worry about heart disease at this age
False.  Although a heart attack is much less common in those under 40, heart attacks can strike at any age. The combination of risk factors and an unhealthy lifestyle can produce a heart attack at an early age.  Dr. Samer Kottiech, Cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine  at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, "Latinos are the youngest population in United States and they are disproportionately affected by obesity and other complications associated with heart disease. Because of that, it is imperative for Latinos to make changes toward a healthier lifestyle for a healthier generation." He concluded, "In the case of children, parents have a big responsibility of not only setting a good example but also supporting kids in living a healthy life."

Myth # 5 – Because I have diabetes I will get a heart attack
False. Although being diabetic is one of the risk factors for heart disease and there are more than 1,000,000 NYC Latinos living with diabetes, diabetes is a condition that can be controlled and in some cases even reversed.  Dr. Pedro Moreno, Cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine  at Mount Sinai, said, "Latinos are at high risk primarily because of their diet which is generally high in fat, sedentary lifestyles and there is a genetic predisposition. Some modifications like more movement – walking, dancing, taking the stairs, and eating more vegetables, brown rice and certain fruit in moderation would be a good first step."  He added, "If you work to control your diabetes with exercise, healthy eating and the support of your physician, you are taking the necessary steps to prevent heart disease."

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States.  The Medical School is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service.  It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 16th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation’s top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Of the top 20 hospitals in the United States, Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and US News & World Report and whose hospital is on the US News & World Report Honor Roll.  Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place. 

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