Robbinsville, NJ - Heart disease is the No. 1 killer for all Americans and stroke is the fourth leading cause of death. Hispanics and Latinos, however, face an increase incidence of cardiovascular diseases because of higher risk for health issues including high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association is urging families to talk about their risks for heart disease and stroke throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15th-October 15th.

Cardiovascular disease is a major concern for the Latino population.  With over one-third of the Mexican American populations having cardiovascular disease, it’s vital to learn how to recognize heart disease and stroke while also taking steps to reduce your risk for these deadly—yet preventable—diseases.

Nearly 78% of Mexican Americans, age 20 and older, are considered overweight or obese while over 22% of Hispanics age 18 and older suffer with high blood pressure. Research also suggests that Hispanics are almost twice as likely to have diabetes as compared with non-Hispanic whites of a similar age.

“Making simple changes can help you greatly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease,” notes Paula Chavez of Union, NJ, American Heart Association spokesperson and fitness expert. “By making healthier food choices, incorporating exercise and scheduling regular check-ups with your doctor, you can be proactive in your and your family’s wellbeing. By taking control of our health today, we can live longer, stronger lives in the future.”

The American Heart Association offers these tips to start on the road to heart-health:

·         Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.

·         Eat at least two servings of fish each week.

·         Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans-fat in your diet.

·         Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol.

·         Get active wherever you are.  At home, take housework to the next level to get your heart pumping. Added benefit—you’ll be done faster!  At work, take the stairs instead of the elevator.

·         Write down a list of questions and bring them with you to your check-up. This way you’ll have a reference and won’t forget something you were meaning to follow up on.

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, the American Heart Association suggests that families find time to discuss why they should care about cardiovascular health and find their motivation to be heart-healthy. The American Heart Association wants people to experience more of life's precious moments. It's why they’ve made better heart and brain health their mission. For the American Heart Association, LIFE IS WHY.  

The Association also urges everyone to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke and to call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone around you exhibits any of the following:

Heart Attack Warning Signs:

·         Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

·         Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

·         Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

·         Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. Women may also have a tendency to experience other symptoms including indigestion, a tightness in the jaw or shoulder or an overwhelming feeling of anxiety.

Stroke Warning Signs:

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you can spot the signs, you'll know that you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away. F.A.S.T. is:

·            F Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?

·            A Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

·            S Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?

·            T Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.


For more information or resources, visit www.heart.org