WEDNESDAY, March 28, 2018 (HealthDay News) – People who immigrate to the United States tend to suffer from less heart disease and stroke than those living in America is born, a new study shows.
However, that's not necessarily because US residents have lazy lifestyle habits that ruin their heart health, the researchers added.
Instead, "people who immigrate seem to be healthier than those who choose to stay in their homeland," said Lead Dr. Jing Fang, epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fang and her colleagues used government data to assess how the place of birth might affect rates
They found that just over 8 percent of men and almost 5 percent of US-born women have heart disease born with 5.5 percent of men and just over 4 percent of women
Native Americans also had a higher stroke rate ̵
Heart disease was lowest in people born in Asia, Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean, researchers found. Strokes were the least common among men from South America and Africa and women from Europe.
Surprisingly, the researchers found that the length of time an immigrant lived in the United States did not affect their risk of heart disease or stroke. 19659004] "Our first thought was that the longer people live in the US, they will have more problems than newer immigrants," Fang said.
It may be that immigrants who choose to move to America bring along a lifestyle "We learned in their childhood that it is better for their heart," said Drs. Eduardo Sanchez, the chief physician of the American Heart Association for Prevention.
"If people with other health habits come here, they may be part of it, which provides better health," Sanchez said.
At first glance one might think that immigrants have better heart health because Americans are struggling with obesity, poor nutrition and lack of exercise.
But Fang noted that countries in Europe, Asia and Africa typically have higher mortality rates from illness and stroke than the United States.
This led Fang and her colleagues to increase the possibility of a "healthy immigrant effect" in which people who decide to move to the United States are healthier than those who stay in their home country. This could either be because these people are more motivated, or because the physical and legal barriers that come to America require a certain amount of moxie.
Sanchez said that an interesting follow up study would be to look at the children of these immigrants to see if they could pick up these healthy habits from their parents or adapt to the less healthy American lifestyle.
"These children, born into American culture, may have a state of health more akin to that of humans born in America for many generations," said Sanchez.
The new study was published on March 28, in the Journal of the American Heart Association .
The American Heart Association has more heart health.
SOURCES: Jing Fang, MD, epidemiologist, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Medical Officer, Prevention and Leaders, Health Metrics and Assessment Centers, American Heart Association; March 28, 2018, Journal of the American Heart Association
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