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J Gen Intern Med. 2009 Feb;24(2):238-43. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0889-1. Epub 2008 Dec 17.

Cardiovascular risk factors and knowledge of symptoms among Vietnamese Americans.

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  • 1Vietnamese Community Health Promotion Project, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California, Box 0320, UCSF, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.



There are few population-based studies of cardiovascular risk factors, knowledge, and related behaviors among Vietnamese Americans.


To describe cardiovascular risk factors, knowledge, and related behaviors among Vietnamese Americans and compare the results to non-Hispanic whites.


Comparison of data from two population-based, cross-sectional telephone surveys.


Vietnamese Americans in Santa Clara County, California, and non-Hispanic whites in California, aged 18 and older.


Survey measures included sociodemographics, diagnoses, body mass index, fruit and vegetable intake, exercise, and tobacco use. Knowledge of symptoms of heart attack and stroke was collected for Vietnamese Americans.


Compared to non-Hispanic whites (n = 19,324), Vietnamese Americans (n = 4,254) reported lower prevalences of obesity, diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, and hypertension, and similar prevalences of stroke and hypercholesterolemia. Fewer Vietnamese Americans consumed fruits and vegetables five or more times daily (27.8% vs 16.3%, p < 0.05), and more reported no moderate or vigorous physical activity (12.1% vs 40.1%, p < 0.05). More Vietnamese men than non-Hispanic White men were current smokers (29.8% vs 19.0%, p < 0.05). Vietnamese Americans who spoke Vietnamese were more likely than those who spoke English to eat fruits and vegetables less frequently, engage in no moderate or vigorous physical activity, and, among men, be current smokers. Only 59% of Vietnamese Americans knew that chest pain was a symptom of heart attack.


There are significant disparities in risk factors and knowledge of symptoms of cardiovascular diseases among Vietnamese Americans. Culturally appropriate studies and interventions are needed to understand and to reduce these disparities.

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