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Trop Med Int Health. 2012 May;17(5):595-603. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2012.02965.x. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

Metabolic, mental health, behavioural and socioeconomic characteristics of migrants with Chagas disease in a non-endemic country.

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Department of Community Medicine, Primary Care and Emergency Medicine, University Hospitals Geneva, Switzerland.



Chronic Chagas disease causes cardiopathy in 20-40% of the 8-10 million people affected. The prevalence of atherogenic factors increases rapidly in Latin America. Somatic, mental, behavioural and social characteristics of the 80,000 Latino migrants with Chagas disease in Europe are not known. We postulate that they may accumulate these factors for poor health--notably cardiovascular-outcomes.


This study took place at the Geneva University Hospitals in 2011. Latin American migrants with Chagas disease diagnosed in Geneva since 2008 were contacted. Interviews and blood tests assessed behavioural, socioeconomic, metabolic and cardiovascular factors.


One hundred and thirty-seven patients (women: 84.7%; median age: 43 years) with chronic Chagas disease were included in the study. The majority were Bolivians (94.2%), undocumented (83.3%), uninsured (72.3%) and living below the Swiss poverty line (89.1%). Prevalence of obesity was 25.5%, of hypertension 17.5%, of hypercholesterolemia 16.1%, of impaired fasting glucose 23.4%, of diabetes 2.9%, of metabolic syndrome 16.8%, of anxiety 58.4%, of depression 28.5%, of current smoking 15.4% and of sedentary lifestyle 62.8%. High (>10%) 10-year cardiovascular risk affected 12.4%.


Latin American migrants with Chagas disease accumulate pathogenic chronic conditions of infectious, non-transmissible, socioeconomic and behavioural origin, putting them at high risk of poor health, notably cardiovascular, outcomes. This highlights the importance of screening for these factors and providing interventions to tackle reversible disorders; facilitating access to care for this hard-to-reach population to prevent delays in medical interventions and poorer health outcomes; and launching prospective studies to evaluate the long-term impact of these combined factors on the natural course of Chagas disease.

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