UIC site for Hispanic/Latino health study

UIC will manage the Chicago portion of a six-year, multi-center National Institutes of Health study of Hispanic and Latino health in the U.S.

“The Hispanic/Latino population is growing faster than any other minority group in the U.S., and to better serve their health needs, we need to know where they stand as a whole — this study lets us see that big picture,” said Martha Daviglus, director of the UIC Institute for Minority Health Research and principal investigator of the Chicago field center.

The nationwide Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos includes more than 16,400 Hispanic/Latino adults between the ages of 18 and 74. Participants are of diverse backgrounds‚ including Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central American and South American. They were recruited from four U.S. communities.

The NIH contract managed by UIC is funded for up to $15.3 million.

The first phase of the study, from 2008 through 2012, collected baseline health data on participants.

In the second phase, researchers will reexamine the participants and collect data on chronic diseases that are prevalent in Hispanics/Latinos, including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and gestational diabetes.

The study will include assessment of cardiovascular risk factors, echocardiography and blood and urine tests.

Participants will complete a questionnaire on demographic, sociocultural and lifestyle factors. Genetic information will be analyzed to determine if health and disease findings can be linked to specific gene variants.

The original study revealed a startling burden of risk among the Hispanic/Latino population, Daviglus said.

“We found that 80 percent of men and 71 percent of women have at least one adverse risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and smoking,” she said.

The study has an educational and preventive component; findings will be shared with the participants and the public.

“Everything we find through this study will help us identify risk factors and educate this population as to measures they can take to avoid these risks and improve their health,” Daviglus said.

The research will investigate the so-called “Hispanic paradox” — despite overall low socioeconomic status and high rates of obesity and diabetes, Hispanic/Latino people in the U.S. tend to live longer than whites, Daviglus said.

“We want to further investigate whether the Hispanic paradox really exists, and if so, what are the factors driving it,” she said. “Does this population do something else that is protective, or helps offset these negative health issues?”

The other field centers are located in the Bronx, San Diego and Miami. The Chicago field center is a collaboration between UIC and Northwestern University.


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