Go Red Corazón Family Tree Helps Begin Heart-Healthy Legacy

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Maria Elena Salinas is painfully aware of the importance of knowing her family’s heart-health history.

Both her parents died from illnesses related to high blood pressure.

“My family has been very aware of the risks we face and has tried to take the necessary steps to maintain a healthy life,” said Salinas, co-anchor of Noticiero Univision and co-host on the Spanish-language television news magazine Aqui y Ahora.

Recently, her 38-year-old niece died in her sleep of hypertensive heart disease. She battled with weight, high blood pressure and diabetes for decades.

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“The one thing she had no control over was her family history with the disease,” Salinas said.

Too many lives have and will be cut short from heart disease and its risk factors; however, early detection, lifestyle changes, and other intervention can improve certain conditions.

As Salinas and other Hispanics celebrate culture and tradition during Hispanic Heritage Month, the American Heart Association is encouraging women and their families to trace their health history and learn about heart disease risk.

Uncovering family history can help you to better understand your risk for heart disease. If you have a blood relative with heart disease or a risk factor for genetic heart disease, your risk for developing it significantly increases.

Hispanics are at high risk of death from heart disease — the nation’s No. 1 killer — due to factors such as diabetes, physical inactivity and obesity. In fact, 20 percent of Hispanics in America have hypertension, 8.3 percent have heart disease, and 5.9 percent have coronary heart disease.

Certain health conditions are genetically passed from one family member to another, but healthy habits can also be passed from generation to generation. So, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, take steps to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle — to help ensure that your heritage continues.

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