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How Your Heritage May Affect Your Heart Disease Risk

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Posted by Temple Heart & Vascular Institute

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in American adults, but some ethnicities may face a greater risk than others.

There are many factors that can influence your risk — some are inherited while others are related to your lifestyle, behaviors and customs. Where you live, your socioeconomic status and your access to quality healthcare can also affect your risk.

Although some of these variables can be influenced by your heritage, it does not mean you're automatically at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease based solely on your race or ethnicity.

Even if you cannot change inherited risks or some factors related to where and how you live, you can take steps to reduce your overall risk of heart disease. This includes making choices to:

  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Not smoke

Cardiovascular Disease Statistics by Ethnicity

Here are some general statistics about cardiovascular disease by ethnicity:

African American

  • Nearly 1/2 of African American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease.
  • African Americans are more likely to have high blood pressure and develop it at an earlier age. They're also at an increased risk of having a stroke and dying from it.


  • Hispanics are more likely to have cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and diabetes.
  • Over 75% of Hispanic adults over age 20 are overweight or obese.

Asian American

  • Recent immigrants from East Asian countries tend to have lower rates of heart disease than other Americans.
  • Risk rises for Asian Americans born in the U.S. who adopt more Western habits. It can lead to an increase in cardiac risk factors such as obesity.

American Indian

  • 36% of American Indians who die from heart disease are under age 65, compared to only 17% of the overall U.S. population.
  • Diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease among American Indians.

How Temple Is Addressing Cardiovascular Health Disparities

At Temple, we're committed to reducing the racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare, including in cardiovascular disease. We do that in several ways.

First, our cardiologists and staff know that a patient is more than a set of test results. They take the time to get to know their patients, including their family medical history, lifestyle choices and level of physical activity. Taking all these factors into consideration helps them create the best plan to treat your heart disease or reduce your risk of getting it in the first place.

Our doctors and staff believe in taking their heart healthy message into the community. They do this by offering free education seminars and support groups, and partnering with community organizations. Temple also participates in the Farm to Families program, which provides fresh, affordable fruits, vegetables and produce to families who cannot easily access these items.

Finally, we are proactive in making sure our patients stay heart healthy. That is why we created our Preventive Cardiology Program and Women’s Heart Disease Program. Both help patients reduce their risk of heart disease, maintain good heart health and catch disease early when it’s most easily treatable.

Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program

If you're concerned about your heart health or risk factors for heart disease, we can help. Our preventative cardiologists and cardiac nurse practitioners will evaluate your risk and work with you to develop a personalized heart health or treatment plan.

Learn more about our Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program >

See a heart specialist today. Call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) or request an appointment.

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