|NIH Funds Largest Long-term Study of Health
and Disease in Hispanic/Latino Populations
Hispanic Community Health Study to Begin in Four Cities
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and six
other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) today
announced contracts totaling $61 million over 6 ½ years to conduct
the largest long-term epidemiological study of health and disease
in Latin American populations living in the United States.
As many as 16,000 participants of Hispanic/Latino origin — 4,000
at each of four sites — will undergo a series of physical
examinations and interviews to help identify the prevalence of
and risk factors for a wide variety of diseases, disorders, and
conditions. Participants in the Hispanic Community Health Study
will range in age from 18 to 74 years and will be followed over
time for occurrence of disease. The study will also determine the
role of cultural adaptation and disparities in the prevalence and
development of disease. In line with the recommendations of a 2003
NHLBI report on epidemiological research in Hispanic populations,
the study will recruit persons who identify themselves as Hispanics
or Latinos, but will emphasize Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans,
Cuban Americans, and Central/South Americans.
“The Hispanic population is the largest minority population in
the United States, and it is expected to triple in growth by 2050.
As this population continues to increase — and to experience
varying rates of disease — it is vitally important to understand
the risk factors and health behaviors that contribute to these
diseases. The knowledge gained from this study will benefit not
only Hispanic populations but will also enhance understanding of
health and disease in other ethnic groups,” said NIH Director Elias
A. Zerhouni, M.D.
The Hispanic Community Health Study is broad-based, addressing
a wide variety of conditions, including heart disease, stroke,
asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep disorders,
dental disease, hearing impairment and tinnitus, diabetes, kidney
and liver disease, and cognitive impairment.
The study will assess such risk factors as diet, physical activity,
obesity, smoking, blood pressure, blood lipids, acculturation,
social and economic disparity, psychosocial factors, occupation,
health care access, the environment, and medication and supplement
“Like the landmark Framingham Heart Study which helped us understand
the origins of heart disease and its risk factors and the Jackson
Heart Study which is looking at heart disease in African Americans,
the Hispanic Community Health Study also promises to make a tremendous
contribution to the nation’s public health,” said NHLBI Director
Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D.
“There are many questions to answer,” said Nabel. “Why are Hispanics
experiencing increased rates of obesity and diabetes and yet have
fewer deaths from heart disease than non-Hispanics? Why is asthma
more common in certain Hispanic groups? Only a long-term epidemiological
investigation can answer questions like these and apply what is
learned to prevent disease.”
In addition to NHLBI, which is the primary funding agency, the
following NIH components will provide additional funds: the National
Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities; the National
Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; the National
Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research; the National Institute
of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; the National Institute
of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and the NIH Office of Dietary
“Since the risk of disease in a population can be influenced by
different cultural and genetic backgrounds, it was important to
have the study include population groups from several geographic
areas and countries of origin and with residence in the U.S. for
varying lengths of time,” said project officer Paul Sorlie, Ph.D.,
chief of NHLBI’s Epidemiology Branch.
The four field study sites awarded contracts are:
- Bronx, NY (Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University,
Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., Principal Investigator)
- Chicago, IL (Northwestern University, Martha Daviglus, M.D.,
Ph.D., Principal Investigator)
- Miami, FL (University of Miami, Neil Schneiderman, Ph.D., Principal
- San Diego, CA (San Diego State University, Greg Talavera, M.D.
M.P.H., Principal Investigator
NHLBI awarded the contract for the study’s data coordinating center
to the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill (Lloyd E.
Chambless, Ph.D., Principal Investigator).
According to the study’s deputy project officer, Larissa Avilés-Santa,
M.D. of NHLBI’s Epidemiology Branch, there’s a good chance that,
like other immigrant groups, as immigrant Hispanic populations
adapt to the lifestyle and culture of the U.S., they will increase
their risk of developing some chronic diseases. “We want to identify
the changes in risk associated with immigration and acculturation
to living in this country,” she said. “Then we will identify changes
most strongly related to disease risk, and figure out how best
to prevent those which are most harmful to health.”
To interview Dr. Sorlie, Dr. Aviles-Santa, or Deputy Project Officer
Phyliss Sholinsky of NHLBI, contact the NHLBI Communications Office
at 301-496-4236. To interview Dr. Daviglus, call Charles R. Loebbaka
at Northwestern at 847-491-4887; to interview Dr. Schneiderman,
call Annie Reisewitz at University of Miami Communications, 305-284-1601;
to interview Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller, call Abe Habenstreit or Sheila
Millen at Albert Einstein at 718-430-3601; to interview Dr. Talavera,
contact Lorena Nava at San Diego State University at 619-594-3952;
to interview Dr. Chambless, call Ramona DuBose at UNC School of
Public Health, at 919-966-7467.
Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart,
Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports
research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment
of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders.
The Institute also administers national health education campaigns
on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and
other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available
online at: www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.