Latino entrepreneurs, Heart Disease and Employee Coverage

Latino small business owners need to incorporate prevention and wellness strategies into their benefits package


 Latino entrepreneurs and “Lipids: The Good the Bad and the Ugly”

“Do you know your numbers” teases a well-known Big Pharma ad for a leading cholesterol lowering medication that globally has amassed 125 Billion in sales over 14.5 years. Suddenly, with that simple question the burden of monitoring our own vital health parameters, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, Body Mass Index and more, was placed squarely on the shoulders of all small business owners responsible for themselves, their families and their employee’s health insurance.

Latino small business owners moreover have the additional burden of the now known genetic predisposition of Latinos for premature heart disease, Type II Diabetes and Obesity.  Business school or real life experience did not provide that elective course on personal health monitoring, much less on the physiological pathways of cholesterol (lipid) metabolism.

What are we to do?

How much will our small businesses health insurance premiums increase if 20, 30 or 50% of your staff are diagnosed with high cholesterol?

Hopefully, the following information will get you and your employees started at designing with your physician a “Personal Preventive Health Plan”.

Typically affecting between 5% and 25% of the global population, Lipid disorders or “Dyslipidemias” are often underdiagnosed, undertreated and not well explained by most health care professionals. The incidence can vary greatly depending on ethnicity, geographical region, genetics, physiology, diet & exercise and a multitude of other variables studied and recognized as confounding variables in our health risk profile.

A simple distribution curve of US Adult fasting lipid levels would naturally place 5% of the “general” population either below or above two standard deviations (95%) of the population “normal”. But who is normal and what are lipids or cholesterol anyway. When should we seek medical advice or treatment?

To understand the abnormal, of course we first have to comprehend the normal. 

Cholesterol is a fat that is synthesized from a chemical that serves as a building block for many physiologic substances and reactions, Acetyl Co-Enzyme A. Neurotransmitters, hormones, cell walls and energy stores all depend on the “Acetyl CoA” pathways.

Therefore, cholesterol metabolism and synthesis is a vital part of human physiologic remodeling and optimal health. Development of fatty brain tissue in infants depend the high fat diet provided by breast milk and diet. All adults require fats for good wound healing and regeneration of all cellular structures.

Abnormalities of cholesterol metabolism

Abnormalities of cholesterol metabolism, hence abnormal lipid profiles, result from a variety of causes. The most serious are those that are inherited or have a genetic basis. The “Familial Dyslipidemias” are generally identified by a thorough family and personal health history.

If Uncle Juan takes medication for his lipid disorder and is known to have “arcus senilius” (a halo of discoloration around pupil caused by excess cholesterol deposits), he may be a carrier of a gene for Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH).

Then it gets complicated. Suffice it to say that if you or your children have a first degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister) that takes medications (or should be taking medication) for an abnormal lipid profile, then all first degree relatives of that “index” case should seek medical evaluation. Your physician or cardiologist should then provide adequate information to understand your risks of the same condition or any impact the condition may have on your future or current health.

Next, we have a much larger group of the US and global population that have abnormal lipid profiles secondary to an abnormal “Personal Cardiovascular Risk Profile”. That is overweight/obesity, hi-fat hi-simple carb diet, lack of physical activity, smoking. Hypertension, type II diabetes and we cannot forget stress (the ultimate risk factor).

Next page: Latino business owners, heart disease and  “lifestyle” factors

Eduardo Montana
Dr. Eduardo Montaña is a Preventive Pediatric Cardiologists and Lipidologist who in 2001 founded Children’s Cardiovascular Medicine, a private practice in the Metropolitan Atlanta area covering the needs of the infants, children and adolescents throughout the State Georgia. He currently serves as a National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA)/National Hispanic Medical Foundation (NHMF) Physician Leadership Fellow in Washington DC where he participates in developing policy initiatives related to Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate healthcare Services (CLAS) for Latino Communities. He serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Health Care Coalition of Georgia (HHCCG) supporting initiatives at addressing Obesity and Diabetes in Latino Communities through Health Education and Promotion Services. Dr. Montaña completed both his training in Preventive Medicine and Pediatric Cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine as well as his Masters of Public Health at the Rollins School of Public Health. In the early nineties, Dr. Montaña was awarded and completed an appointment at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Environmental Health and Health Promotion in the Epidemiology Intelligence Service in Birth Defects Surveillance. He later served on faculty at Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and Pediatric Cardiology. Dr. Montaña earned his MBA in Healthcare Administration and Management from University of Colorado Executive Health Care Business School. He remains committed to positively impacting educational and health care disparities in Latin American youth.