Importance: Hispanic individuals are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States and face lower socioeconomic status compared with non-Hispanic white (NHW) individuals. However, Hispanic individuals tend to experience better health outcomes than expected, a phenomenon known as the Hispanic paradox. Little is known about how higher socioeconomic status is associated with Hispanic cardiovascular risk factor burden and outcomes.
Objective: To determine cardiovascular risk and outcomes among highly educated Hispanic vs NHW individuals in a preventive medicine clinic.
Design, settings, and participants: Retrospective cohort analysis of participants from the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study who underwent preventive medical examinations at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, from October 1972 to November 2017. Analysis began April 2018.
Exposure: Ethnicity, self-defined as Hispanic or NHW.
Main outcomes and measures: Prevalence of major metabolic risk factors and cardiorespiratory fitness were compared, as were changes among participants with at least 2 visits. Ethnic differences adjusted for age, examination year, and educational attainment were estimated using regression models. Age-matched comparisons of coronary artery calcium scores were performed. All-cause mortality was summarized using the Kaplan-Meier method.
Results: This study included 1351 Hispanic and 43 736 NHW participants aged 20 to 80 years, body mass index between 18.5 and 50.0, and were not missing key cardiometabolic or fitness variables. Both Hispanic and NHW participants had high educational attainment, with a mean of more than 15 years of total education. Hispanic women and men had a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome (71 of 518 [13.1%] vs 1477 of 13 732 [10.8%] for women and 255 of 833 [30.6%] vs 7902 of 30 004 [26.3%] for men, respectively). Although Hispanic individuals were twice as likely to have diabetes, there was no difference in calculated 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk scores by ethnicity. Both Hispanic and NWH individuals experienced a statistically significant worsening in cardiometabolic parameters during follow-up, although this was not statistically significantly different between groups. In age-matched analyses, there were no significant differences in the prevalence of coronary artery calcium scores between Hispanic and NWH individuals. During a mean (SD) follow-up of 12.9 (7.5) years, there was no difference in mortality between Hispanic and NHW individuals.
Conclusions and relevance: Hispanic and NHW men and women with high educational attainment had similar atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk, subclinical coronary atherosclerosis, and mortality during follow-up. These findings do not support the Hispanic paradox in a highly educated Hispanic population.