Heart Awareness Month Brings Issue to the Latino Community

The month of February has become synonymous with the color red.

And while it has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, it has everything to do with issues of the heart.

Since 1963, the U.S. has dedicated February to raising awareness about heart disease.

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in men and women in the U.S.” Dr. Kimberly Parks of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard School of Medicine told Fox News Latino. “In many cases, heart failure is the end result in all types of heart disease.”

Since obesity and diabetes is prevalent among Latinos, the risk of heart disease becoming fatal among this group is higher than others, experts say.

And since Hispanic women, in particular, have one of the highest obesity rates of any group in the country, there is also a strong incentive to increase awareness about the disease among Latinas, experts say.

“Heart attacks kill five times more women than breast cancer,” Dr. Juan Rivera, a cardiologist from Miami, told to Fox News Latino.

He said it's a particular problem among Latinas because “women don’t tend to recognize their symptoms as being a heart attack.”

To bring more attention to this issue, Rivera has teamed up with the American Heart Associations’ Heart Truth campaign. He said what they are trying to do is encourage Latinos to share their experiences and encourage their loved ones to live a healthy lifestyle.

Rivera describes the lifestyle choices that can create a “time bomb” of risk factors for heart disease.

Having high cholesterol, along with the sedentary lifestyle common in the Latino community, is contributing to the disease’s growing prominence.

Stressing the importance of a healthy lifestyle, Parks said the community must get involved in developing better habits.

“Any time support is given,” Parks said, “it’s a positive thing.”