March 28 (UPI) -- Heart disease and strokes are less prevalent among foreign-born adults than U.S.-born adults, according to a study.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers compared coronary heart disease and strokes among U.S. adults based upon birthplace. The findings, based on data from the 2006 to 2014 National Health Interview Survey for people 18 and older, were published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death and strokes make up the fifth leading cause in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Researchers found the number of years people had been living in the United States was not related to risk of coronary heart disease or stroke after they adjusted for demographic and health characteristics.
Among men with coronary disease, it was 8.2 percent among those born in the United States versus 5.5 percent for those born in another country. Among women with coronary heart disease, it was 4.8 percent for natives vs. 4.1 percent for those born elsewhere.
For strokes, it was 2.7 percent each for U.S.-born men and women compared with 2.1 percent for foreign-born men and 1.9 percent for foreign-born women.
The researchers said the differences between foreign-born and U.S.-born adults could be explained by the "healthy immigrant effect" --immigrants are usually healthier than others because of self-selection or physical/legal barriers.
Coronary heart disease rates were lowest among people born in Asia, Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean. Strokes were least prevalent among men born in South America or Africa and women from Europe.
From 1970 to 2010, the number of adults living in the United States who were born elsewhere increased from 9.6 million to 40 million.
In the 1960s, 75 percent of foreign‐born residents were from Europe. In 2010, more than 80 percent of foreign‐born individuals were from Latin America and the Caribbean or Asia.
"With the increasing and changing foreign‐born populations in the United States and differential prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors and related health behaviors compared with US‐born adults, there is need for information on the relationship between birthplace and coronary heart disease and stroke in the United States." the researchers wrote.
Researchers said high-risk groups might need to be better targeted.