The University of Illinois at Chicago Institute for Minority Health Research will manage a National Institutes of Health project to follow up, over the next six years, with all Chicago participants in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos—the largest-ever prospective health study of this population.
The NIH contract to be managed by UIC is for up to $15.3 million. “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 Dr. Martha Daviglus, director of the UIC Institute for Minority Health Research and principal investigator of the Chicago field center.
The multi-center, prospective, population-based study 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—and have been recruited from four U.S. communities.
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 second examination 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.
“We found that 80% of men and 71% of women have at least one adverse risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and smoking,” Dr. Daviglus said.
The study has an educational and preventive component. Findings will be shared with the participants and with 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,” Dr. Daviglus said.
Another aim is to 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.
“We want to further investigate whether the ‘Hispanic paradox’ really exists, and if so, what are the factors driving it," Dr. Daviglus said. "Does this population do something else that is protective, or helps offset these negative health issues?”
In the first phase of the study, the Chicago field center interviewed 4,136 participants. Each baseline examination took seven to eight hours and assessed lifestyle-related risk factors for cardiovascular, pulmonary, liver, kidney and other diseases, as well as demographic and socioeconomic data and sociocultural and other factors that may influence disease risk. Sleep, dental and hearing evaluations were done. Participants have been followed by yearly phone calls or home visits for up to four years since, to assess any changes in their health.
The other field centers are in the New York borough of the Bronx, San Diego and Miami. The Chicago field center is a collaboration between UIC and Northwestern University.
The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos is sponsored by contracts from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and six other institutes, centers and offices of the NIH.