Are Hispanic men getting the health care they need?

Dr. Andres Giraldo, an internal medicine physician at Advocate Illinois Masonic, says regular visits with physicians and additional follow-ups when things start to feel wrong are key to long-term health.

The first line of defense for many serious health issues is a trusting relationship with a primary care physician, but Hispanic men are often not seeking out or receiving the regular care they need to stay healthy and out of the emergency department.

There are many real and perceived barriers for Spanish-speaking and Hispanic patients in health care, he says, including limited access and providers who cannot communicate in Spanish.

“Patients need to feel empowered to speak openly about what they’re experiencing is key to preventing and catching health issues early before progressing into something life threatening,” he says. “That can be an issue for anyone, but especially if patients aren’t confident they will be able to speak to a provider in their preferred language.”

Hispanic adults are more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with and die from diabetes. They also are more likely to have poorly controlled high blood pressure and are more likely to be obese. They also face higher rates of certain cancers, including cervical cancer, that are often tied to lack of screening. All are conditions that can be managed or prevented with the regular and/or early intervention of a physician, Dr. Giraldo says.

Additionally, studies have shown that Hispanic men are more likely than Hispanic women, white women and white men to go to the emergency room as primary source of treatment. That could mean that many ignore symptoms or issues or miss early diagnoses until their medical issues progress, leaving them with no choice but to get immediate interventions.

“It is extremely important for individuals to find a primary care physician they trust and can reach out to for questions and to make regular appointments to ensure problems are caught before the escalate to emergency care,” Dr. Giraldo says.

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