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Hispanic women face inequities affecting maternal health outcomes

(NewMediaWire) - April 25, 2022 - DALLAS - Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of maternal death in the U.S. Simply put, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of new moms.[1]  As everyone everywhere s ready to celebrate their mothers, the American Heart Association, through its “Stay Fuerte for All” campaign, is raising awareness among Hispanic/ Latina moms, especially during pregnancy, about the importance of managing their blood pressure. On average, about one in every 16 Hispanic women aged 20 and older have coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease.[2]

Hispanic / Latina mothers hold a special place in their homes when it comes to family decisions. They are considered the head of the family for their key role in raising children and teaching younger generations. More than 61% of Hispanic/ Latina mothers are also part of the U.S. workforce.[3] Juggling multiple roles - from family responsibilities, which often include caring for aging parents, to demanding jobs, often low wage[4], may leave them with less time to prioritize their health. In fact, adverse outcomes related to cardiovascular diseases disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic/Latina mothers.[5] These cardiovascular related adverse childbirth outcomes have increased in the U.S., widening racial and ethnic disparities. This poses a threat to women’s heart health during pregnancy and later in life, making it important that women understand how to care for themselves and their babies.[6]

The Association is expanding its “Stay Fuerte for All” awareness campaign to reach and engage Latinas through educational social media efforts, tools and resources leveraged through our strategic alliances to support women during all stages of maternal care, starting with the importance of managing their blood pressure. Blood pressure is the key vital sign to detecting hypertensive disorders, like preeclampsia[7], in pregnancy.[8] Physical changes associated with menopause also increase a woman's risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, women of Black and Hispanic ethnicity may develop high blood pressure at a younger age and have a higher average blood pressure than other racial groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[9]

However, lowering high blood pressure reduces stroke risk by approximately 80%, when proper life changes are put into play. Women can measure their blood pressure at home regularly and let their trusted medical provider, pharmacist or doctor know if it is often above 120/80 mm Hg, which is the Association’s evidence-based threshold for elevated blood pressure. In addition to monitoring blood pressure numbers, lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep and an adequate amount of exercise, eating heart-healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking can go a long way to reducing women’s cardiovascular disease risk.

The American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives, advises Latina mothers to keep their blood pressure under control, and the first step is knowing their numbers by visiting their clinic, doctor’s office, or local pharmacy to check it. For more information and tips on maternal health and managing blood pressure at all stages of pregnancy, visit GoRedForWomen.org/Pregnancy and National Hypertension Control Initiative.

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 About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   

For Media Inquiries: 214-706-1173

Elizabeth Nickerson: 305-761-5932. Elizabeth.Nickerson@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org


[1] Petersen EE, Davis NL, Goodman D, et al. Vital Signs: Pregnancy-Related Deaths, United States, 2011–2015, and Strategies for Prevention, 13 States, 2013–2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:423–429. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6818e1   

[6] Petersen EE, Davis NL, Goodman D, et al. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Pregnancy-Related Deaths — United States, 2007–2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:762–765. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6835a3