A study published in May 2010 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and based on data conducted over an 11 year period was the first to compare cardiovascular risk factors and associated heart disease and stroke prevalence across the four major racial-ethnic groups living in the same geographic area, with a similar living environment and similar access to health care. The report found that Whites (Caucasian), South Asians, Blacks and Chinese had striking differences in cardiovascular risk profiles.
The study entitled “Comparison of Cardiovascular Risk Profiles Among Ethnic Groups” was based on population health surveys between 1996 and 2007 and was conducted by the Toronto-based Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. It compared data from 154,653 Caucasians (Whites), 3,038 Chinese, 3,364 South Asians and 2,742 blacks who participated in Statistics Canada’s cross-sectional national population health survey between 1996 and 2007.
Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include smoking, diabetes, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure) as well as psychological or social stress.
FAVORABLE DIFFERENCES IN RISK BETWEEN ETHNIC GROUPS
The study reported that Chinese had the most favorable cardiovascular risk factor profile with only 4.3% of the population reporting two or more major cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes, obesity and hypertension (high blood pressure).
South Asians had the next most favorable cardiovascular risk profile (7.9%), followed by Whites (10.1%) and Blacks (11.1%).
PREVALENCE OF RISK FACTORS BY RACE
The study also found that smoking, obesity and stress were significantly more common in Whites, while diabetes and hypertension were much more prevalent among Blacks and South Asians.
WHAT COULD THE STUDY MEAN FOR YOU?
Risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, obesity and hypertension (high blood pressure) are considered to be related to 90% of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, so being aware of these ethnic differences can help you, your doctor and your dietitian make lifestyle changes specific to your ethnicity, including;
- diabetes and hypertension lifestyle intervention targeted to high-risk South Asians and Blacks
- obesity-prevention programs for Black women and White men and women
- encouraging physical activity among South Asian and Chinese populations
CONSULTING OUR REGISTERED DIETITIAN
If you have any of the risk factors known to be prevalent for your ethnic background, consider consulting with our Registered Dietitian. She is a food and nutrition expert and is knowledgeable and experienced to help you make the lifestyle changes needed to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.