SALUD: CDC Study Finds Mexicans Less Likely To Take Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs
The cholesterol health of Latinos, and in particular of Mexican-Americans, was the basis of a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"Nearly 800,000 people die in the United States each year from cardiovascular disease -- that is one in every three deaths," said Carla Mercado, an epidemiologist for the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the CDC, adding that high cholesterol continues to be a major risk factor.
The subcomponents that determine what your cholesterol is the so called "bad cholesterol," or LDL, while HDL is known as the "good cholesterol" and triglicerides, which is another form of fat. Too much, however, is bad for you. Both the LDL and HDL combined form the basis of whether you will have cardiovascular disease.
"Cholesterol is not just a number," said Internist and Pediatrician Alexander Diaz de Villalvilla of Montifiore Hospital in The Bronx, New York.
A healthy percentage of Villalvilla's patients are Latinos, in particular Dominicans and Mexicans. He says that he often sees patients struggle with their cholesterol levels because of a myriad of reasons. Whether it is diet, lifestyle or a peculiarity that he has encountered with his patients, which has his patients balking at taking certain cholesterol-lowering medications because of the dosage.
First, he says the patients are uneasy with the number written on the bottle.
"They look at the miligrams of [a medication] and see a large number, for example Metaformin, commonly used for type 2 diabetes, which is 1,000mg for two days and then they see that Resumistat, which is 10-40mg. And they think this will hurt them more," he said.
Villalvilla has a creative way to illustrate to his patients that this is not the case. He takes, for example, how they would prepare a meal.
"I tell them if you take first a thousand grains of rice and 100 beans, or you have 100 grains of rice and a thousand beans, the [latter] would not be such a good meal," he says.
Second, they see prescription drug advertising on television or in the newspaper and see or read that a certain cholesterol-lowering statin will cause diabetes.
"It is one percent of those that have a predisposition for diabetes that it can then progress to a prediabetic stage and from there diabetes," he says. He continues to say that "the high risk benefits for mortality outweighs any issues with regards to developing diabetes and complications there from."
According to the CDC report, compared to the black population, Mexican-Americans were less likely to take cholesterol-lowering drugs. The figures are stark as only 47 percent of Mexicans were taking medications, and less than 30 percent of Mexican-Americans are eligible for or were already on medication.
Mercado said she did not know why this is the case. Though the study only looked at Mexican-Americans as a subgroup within the Latino population, there was a recent study by the Journal of the American Hearth Disease Association that, according to Mercado, did find that Mexican-Americans were less likley to take cholesterol-lowering medication compared to Dominicans and Puerto Ricans.
A counter intuitive finding from the study that both Mercado and Villalvilla pointed out is the fact that the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs usually increases with income.
"This was not the case according to our finding. We found that those in lower poverty-income categories were likely to take medication than those in the higher poverty-to income range," Mercado said.
Subscribe to Latin Post!
Sign up for our free newsletter for the Latest coverage!