Actress and Producer Gina Torres Urges Hispanic Americans to Prioritize Cholesterol Care | Amgen

PATIENTS

Actress and Producer Gina Torres Urges Hispanic Americans to Prioritize Cholesterol Care

Gina shares how to “be ready, stay ready” when it comes to high LDL cholesterol in a new PSA.

Despite similar rates of high LDL (also known as the "bad") cholesterol across racial groups,1 Hispanic adults are more likely to experience major risk factors for cardiovascular disease than non-Hispanic white adults.2 Additionally, Hispanic Americans often face obstacles in accessing preventive screening services.3 Reasons for these staggering statistics include a general lack of understanding around the urgency of reducing LDL levels and the language barriers some Hispanic families may face.

As a result of these and other systemic factors, less than 10 percent of Hispanic adults are considered at "low risk" for cardiovascular complications like heart attacks and strokes.4 Acclaimed actress and producer Gina Torres knows this challenge felt by many Hispanic Americans first-hand after supporting her parents who struggled with high LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

Driving Urgency Around LDL Cholesterol for Hispanic Americans

When Gina's parents were told they had high LDL cholesterol, they were encouraged to modify their diet and exercise choices. However, diet and exercise are not always enough to lower LDL cholesterol, especially for people who have a family history or are at higher risk of a cardiovascular event. For Gina's parents, it was hard to make these lifestyle changes given their age and her family's deep-rooted cultural connection to food. These challenges, paired with an inability for them to fluently discuss other angles of care, solidified for Gina the importance of increasing heart health and cholesterol education for those in her community.

With her family in mind, Gina was motivated to partner with Amgen and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) on a public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness and drive urgency around the importance of LDL cholesterol testing for those within the Hispanic community.


Bridging the Gap for Loved Ones

Gina accompanied her parents to doctor's appointments, acting as a family caregiver and interpreter, while helping to advocate for their health plans. Her mother was monolingual in Spanish, which made routine steps such as articulating basic symptoms and concerns especially difficult.

For people who are monolingual, asking for a medical interpreter or being accompanied by a promotora de salud – also known as a community health worker – may be beneficial. Bilingual family members or loved ones can also play a crucial role in advocating – by accompanying others to doctor's appointments, they can help bridge language barriers to ensure essential information is understood.

How Gina Stays Heart-Healthy

When Gina learned of her parents' high LDL cholesterol diagnosis, she recognized the importance of keeping an eye on her own health and regularly testing her own cholesterol levels. In line with her life's motto, "be ready, stay ready," Gina is careful about her nutrition, gets regular exercise and prioritizes getting her LDL cholesterol tested yearly. She often says, "knowledge is power" and makes sure to discuss her lab results with her healthcare providers to understand her cardiovascular risk. Gina's experience with heart health has taught her that some risk factors, like LDL cholesterol, may come without any other signs or symptoms until it's too late.

Visit AttackHeartDisease.com for more information on the importance of LDL cholesterol and getting tested, especially for people who have cardiovascular disease or have had a heart attack or stroke. Learn more about how to receive a free LDL cholesterol test and talk to a doctor about the results.


References

  1. CDC. Health, United States – Infographics. Accessed March 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/hus/spotlight/2019-heart-disease-disparities.htm
  2. Balfour PC Jr, Ruiz JM, Talavera GA, et al. Cardiovascular Disease in Hispanics/Latinos in the United States. J Lat Psychol. 2016 May;4(2):98-113. doi: 10.1037/lat0000056. PMID: 27429866; PMCID: PMC4943843.
  3. Alcalá HE, Albert SL, Roby DH, et al. Access to Care and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Cross-Sectional Study in 2 Latino Communities. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Aug;94(34):e1441. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000001441. PMID: 26313803; PMCID: PMC4602927.
  4. Daviglus ML, Pirzada A, Durazo-Arvizu R, et al. Prevalence of Low Cardiovascular Risk Profile Among Diverse Hispanic/Latino Adults in the United States by Age, Sex, and Level of Acculturation: The Hispanic

Share This Story