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Ethnic Groups are at a Greater Risk of Heart Disease, Study Reports

Update Date: Oct 27, 2014 11:31 AM EDT

Certain ethnic groups have a greater risk of heart disease, a new study reported. The researchers added that many of these groups are unaware of their risks, which could exacerbate their health conditions.

For this study, the researchers assessed heart disease risk in more than 3,000 patients who were being treated at an urgent-care clinic in Toronto, Canada. The researchers handed out a list of 20 activities or conditions and asked the patients to identify the ones that contribute to heart disease and whether or not they had any of the list items. The patients self-reported their ethnicity.

The team discovered that South Asian patients had higher rates of diabetes and lower levels of stress in comparison to Caucasian patients. South Asians were also more likely to have sedentary lifestyles. East Asian patients reported more sedentary lifestyles and higher rates of hypertension in comparison to Caucasians. Black patients had higher incidences of diabetes and high blood pressure than Caucasians did.

Despite having more risk factors, all three ethnic groups were less aware than Caucasian patients of the fact that their health conditions could lead to heart diseases. For example, South Asian and Black patients were less likely than Caucasian patients to know that diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease even though they had a higher rate of diabetes.

"We know that different ethnic groups have varying predispositions for cardiovascular disease," said lead author of the study, Eric Coomes, a University of Toronto medical student, according to the press release. "But the fact remains that a significant proportion of premature heart disease and stroke may be prevented. It's important that Canadians of all ethnic backgrounds be aware of the health behaviors needed to prevent heart disease and stroke."

The researchers concluded that educating people about the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases could potentially prevent a good number of cases.

The study's findings were presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

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