The number of Latino doctors has declined 22% over the past few decades, even as the Latino population has skyrocketed.

But Latino heart doctors are even more rare.

heart health graphicOnly 3.2% of U.S.-trained and practicing cardiologists are Latino, compared to 41.9% white, 14.2% Asian, 2.4% African American, and about 38% unknown or other, according to a report by American Heart News.

Among Latinos, most doctors internists or general practitioners. Fewer Latinos go into cardiology than surgery, psychiatry or emergency medicine.

“Experts say they wish more medical students in general chose to specialize in cardiology,” according to the American Heart News article. “But getting more racially and ethnically diverse cardiologists to treat patients in their respective communities is especially important. Research shows minority patients, when given a choice, often seek out doctors from their same race or heritage.”

Although cancer has surpassed heart disease as the No. 1 killer of Latinos, they still face higher risks of heart disease than others and Latinas are often unaware of these risks.

Increasing the number of Latino heart doctors start in the educational pipeline.

For example, medical school programs and cardiologists should start engaging kids in elementary and secondary school, and making efforts to recruit minority candidates. The American College of Cardiology has a new initiative to encourage more women and racial/ethnic minority physicians to pursue a career in cardiology.

“Training with people from different ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds better prepares doctors to care for a more diverse group of patients and better understand the health issues and cardiovascular disease risk factors that are unique to a particular ethnic group,” the American Heart News reports.

Go here for more Latino heart heal news.

Also check out some solutions to Latino heart health issues via our recent #SaludTues Tweetchats on nutrition and heart health.

Read the full American Heart News report in English or Spanish.

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