National Hispanic Medical Association Concludes Leadership Summit Series on Cardiovascular Disease & Hispanics

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death among Hispanics. Unfortunately, there’s a significant void in the knowledge base of the physician and patient advocacy community about cardiovascular disease diagnosis, access to care, and health care workforce training related to Hispanic populations. As such, there is a critical need to raise awareness about these issues to improve the future health of the Hispanic population in the United States.

In 2017, the National Hispanic Medical Association convened a Summit Series to increase awareness of: cardiovascular disease prevalence, prevention and diagnosis in the Hispanic/Latino community; access issues pertaining to CVD healthcare services; and education and advocacy for health care professionals and patients. The Summit Series was part of NHMA’s broader effort to increase health equity among Hispanics.

Throughout the Summit Series, NHMA had a key goal in mind – to use outputs from the Summits to develop and distribute a comprehensive report based on the cumulative recommendations of the Summit working groups. As such, each event followed the same format to ensure a cohesive final set of recommendations. Summit panelists and attendees ranged from renowned healthcare professionals, public health officials, advocacy experts and patients, as well as business and association leaders.

We were proud to welcome legislators at all three Summits to set the stage for a compelling dialogue with opening remarks, and share the important work related to their constituencies. It was an honor to welcome:

  • State Representative Diana Arevalo (Texas District 116), Member of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the Healthcare Committee for the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators;

  • Honorable Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo (New York District 85), Chairman of the Puerto Rican/Latino Task Force; and

  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis (California District 1), former Secretary of Labor.

Additionally, all three Summits included a diverse and knowledgeable group of panelists, including but not limited to, the following individuals:


  • Carlos Jose Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Wake Forest University, provided the Keynote address at NHMA’s first Summit in Texas. Dr. Rodriguez addressed how Americans and Texans, particularly the Hispanic community, were impacted by CVD, provided an overview of medical innovation in the space, as well as his research on the topic. Dr. Rodriguez shared findings from ECHO-SOL, a national multi-center study of cardiac structure and function in Latinos across the United States, of which he is principal investigator.

  • Martha Daviglus, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Institute for Minority Health Research, as well as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago, attended all three Summits and provided the Keynote address at the concluding Los Angeles Summit to discuss the state of CVD in Hispanic populations and her research on the topic. Of note, Dr. Daviglus shared her work as principal investigator of the Hispanic Community Health Study / Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), a multi-center epidemiologic study in Hispanic/Latino populations to assess the role of acculturation in the prevalence and development of disease, and to identify factors playing a protective or harmful role in the health of Hispanics/Latinos. 
  • Elianne Ramos (@ERgeekgoddness), CEO of Speak Hispanic Communications, joined our first Summit in Texas to share how social media can help physicians and patients advocate for better policies that improve patient health.

  • Venus Ginés, Founder of Día de la Mujer Latina; Instructor at Baylor College of Medicine for Cultural Competence and Health Literacy; and Health and Human Services’ National Promotores (Community Health Worker) Steering Committee member, joined NHMA’s first Summit in Texas to address how CHWs can support Hispanic patients, especially in medically underserved communities, overcome fear and mistrust and navigate the health system.

  • A notable speaker at our New York Summit included Keith C. Ferdinand, Professor of Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine and past chair of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC). Dr. Ferdinand presented ABC’s Summary of Recommendations on Improving Health Care Access for Minority and High-Risk Populations.
  • During the concluding Summit in Los Angeles, Katherine Wilemon, President of FH Foundation, shared her personal experience of being diagnosed with FH and her work helping other FH patients advocate for proper access to innovative treatments.
  • Finally, Sarah Aoanan, Community Outreach Manager for Global Healthy Living Foundation, attended the New York and Los Angeles events. At our final Summit, Sarah shared her experience working on behalf of an advocacy organization that helps patients who have access issues, especially around cardiovascular disease. She also shared legislative victories related to access barriers and presented the Partnership to Advance Cardiovascular Health’s video on patient access challenges and solutions, which can be viewed here.

After participating in robust working group sessions, attendees brainstormed and shared recommendations on issues surrounding CVD prevention, education and access to care in the Hispanic/Latino community in Los Angeles.  A sampling of recommendations discussed during the Summit series include:

  • Establish a Hispanic CVD Awareness Month
  • Promote self-care and stress reduction activities among the Hispanic community
  • Educate physicians on how to improve prevention, diagnosis and access by offering CME credit for workshops, webinars, etc.
  • Implement policy changes on federal and state levels regarding the challenging appeals process for access to CVD healthcare services
  • Improve access to culturally competent and multi-linguistic health providers, such as Promotoras
  • Disseminate measurements of CVD risk factors to Hispanic communities in lay terms
  • Improve affordable access to nutritious foods
    • Coordinate with patients to help them prepare healthier meals based on their ethnic diet (i.e. black beans, picadillo and turkey, etc.)
  • Educate physicians on the need to involve a patient’s family members in prevention efforts
  • Partner with churches, barbers and other areas where the community congregates, to educate and promote heart health
  • Streamline prior authorization process for innovative treatments, such as PCSK9s


If you missed the Summit, you can download the final presentation decks below. NHMA will develop and issue a comprehensive final report this Fall to share key issues and recommendations to improve Hispanic/Latino health and access to care. NHMA will host a public event to announce the recommendations. For updates on the final report, please visit

New York Final Summit Presentation

Los Angeles Final Summit Presentation

Austin Final Summit Presentation


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