By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Puerto Rican adults living in the United States appear to have the worst health among not only their Hispanic peers, but also compared with non-Hispanic Americans, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds.
The researchers note that considering there are 54 million Hispanic Americans — making them the nation’s largest minority group — “data on Hispanic subgroups are needed to understand the health of Hispanic persons of diverse backgrounds.”
Overall, Hispanics reported worse general health than non-Hispanics. But when researchers looked at health measures among specific subgroups of Hispanics, they found Puerto Ricans were much more likely to report having multiple health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
About 27 percent of Puerto Ricans had at least two of those chronic conditions, compared with 21 percent of Mexicans, 19 percent of Cubans, and 17 percent of Central or South Americans.
Jacqueline Lucas, a health statistician and lead author of the report, said the snapshot gives her and her CDC colleagues a starting point to further analyze the data by characteristics such as age, education and insurance coverage to determine why Puerto Ricans appear to have worse health than other Hispanic groups.
“It’s good to be able to look at as much diversity as we can in the Hispanic population,” said Lucas, who over two decades at the CDC has focused her research on minorities, health disparities and immigrant health.
For decades, Lucas said, Puerto Ricans have consistently reported poorer health than other Hispanics. What stood out to her in the new data is that it appears the gap for that measure has widened.
In addition, Puerto Ricans were more likely than other Hispanics and non-Hispanics to have experienced serious psychological distress, including feeling nervous or hopeless, within the past month. Puerto Ricans were also more likely to report that health problems prevented them from working.
The data were collected between 2010 and 2014 from 165,950 Americans, including 28,880 Hispanics.
Nationally, Mexicans make up the largest Hispanic subgroup, followed by Puerto Ricans, recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show.
According to CDC researchers, “although the Hispanic population in the United States may share a common language, there is considerable variation among subgroups in terms of cultural background, socioeconomic status, and care-seeking behaviors.” The findings, they wrote, “highlight the importance of considering Hispanic subgroups when examining Hispanic health.”
The report released Friday is the latest from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics to address the health of U.S. ethnic and racial groups.
An April report found Hispanics live longer than whites and blacks, and research released in May showed Asian-Americans report being in better health than other U.S. adults.