Meet Dr. Roberto Hodara

Dr. Hodara is a cardiologist with an office in Wormleysburg, Pa. Originally from Uruguay, he received his medical degree from Universidad de la Republica Faculty of Medicine. He did his residency in cardiovascular disease  at the Albert Einstein Medical Center and his fellowship and post-doctoral research at the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. According to Dr. Hodara, he sees a good number of Latino patients, the majority being from Puerto Rico.

“Cardiovascular disease, my area of specialty, is the leading cause of death among Latino patients, as it is in other demographic groups,” says Hodara.  He further adds, “Certain risk factors such as diabetes and obesity tend to be more prevalent in the Latino community.”

Other risk factors, like smoking, are found to be less prevalent in the Hispanic community compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Unfortunately, the degree of awareness of cardiovascular risk factors in Latino patients is lower, which tends to delay preventive measures against diseases, such as heart failure, heart attacks and strokes.

In addition, other factors that have been linked to higher cardiovascular risk, such as lower socioeconomic status and lower educational level, are also more common in the Latino population.

So, how do we take care of our heart? The answer can be broken down into five categories:

Diet: Eat less complex carbohydrates and more proteins. What’s a complex carbohydrate, you ask? Think of things that grow when water is added – pasta, rice, breads, etc.

Exercise: Half an hour to an hour walk, at least five days a week. Avoid sitting for long periods of time.

Smoking? Quit. Today. Don’t put it off. Quit today. Live longer. Simple, right?

Control your weight. Avoid processed foods. Avoid fast foods. Use more fresh ingredients when cooking.

Control your blood pressure and sugar.  Some evidence has suggested that high blood sugar contributes significantly to high blood pressure. Avoid excess sugary-sweetened drinks, like soda and sweet tea.

Hodara cannot point to a particular dietary habit or tradition exposing Latino members to higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Rather, it is probably the adoption of western -type diets and lifestyles that contribute the most to cardiac risk. Some studies have shown that Latinos tend to be less physically active than other groups.

On the other hand, there is suggestion that the extended families of  Latinos patients may provide protective effects though strong psychosocial support.

Hodara recommends everyone past the age of 30 undergo routine health check ups. ◆

Ali Waxman

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