The Top 5 Health Conditions in Latin America

In many ways, Latin America’s struggles with chronic health conditions are not all that different from what is seen in the United States and other western nations. But in other ways, there are reasons for great concern. For one, rates of poor health indicators such as obesity, smoking and other risks are rising at an alarming rate. Making matters worse is the fact that many regions in Latin America are lacking the equipment found in hospitals in more advanced economies. It all adds up to risky and potentially life-threatening situations for many Latin American residents.

With this in mind, we sought to identify the top areas of concern when it comes to the general health care of Latin Americans. These are the areas where equipment manufacturers can make the biggest positive changes for the health of Latin America.

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Heart Disease/Stroke
Cardiovascular risks are hardly a surprise at number one, as they are the leading cause of death of almost every population around the world. But the major concern in Latin America is the rise in heart disease and stroke risk factors, such as the growing rate of obesity, tobacco use and other problems tied to cardiovascular health. The need for health care equipment to diagnose and treat these problems is a significant one.

Diabetes is a health crisis in Latin America. In Mexico alone, the rate of type 2 diabetes among adults is 14.4 percent. Death from diabetes increased 23 percent from 1998 to 2002. This makes the need for equipment and medicine for diabetes, such as insulin delivery systems, a major concern for almost all Latin American countries.

High Cholesterol
High cholesterol used to be more of a problem in the United States than in Latin America. But as western culture has gradually made its way southward, the unfortunate dietary trends of the U.S. have caused problems in Latin America, as well. A recent survey of Brazilian cities found a high cholesterol rate of 53 percent among adults, and 14 percent had extremely high cholesterol levels.

High Blood Pressure
As you may have guessed based on the alarming trend of heart disease, obesity and high cholesterol, high blood pressure is also quite literally on the rise among Latin Americans. Several studies have shown prevalent high blood pressure among various Latin American populations. One recent study of a particular region of Brazil discovered a level of 18 percent among adults.

Though not tied to a specific part of the body, injuries are another major health concern in Latin America. Among men age 15 to 59, injuries are the leading cause of death in Latin America. Though health care manufacturers may not be able to stem the tide of injuries, they could certainly help to treat them after they occur.

How Manufacturers Can Help
Latin America’s economy is growing in many way, and despite these health problems, one positive trend is that many hospitals and health systems are investing heavily in order to reverse these problems. For health care equipment manufacturers that are looking to be part of the solution in Latin America, a great resource is Global Health Intelligence. Their comprehensive HospiScope database provides vital information to manufacturers looking to identify areas of need throughout the region.

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