Introduction: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the most common (23%) cause of death in Ecuador. Of the major CVD risk factors, high BP, total/HDL cholesterol, and glucose, plus risk factor (RF) knowledge, healthy-heart behaviors (HHBs), and health literacy (HL) are unknown. As 69% of Ecuadorians live in poverty, primarily in rural areas distant from urban wealth and are understudied, attention to the rural areas is needed.
Methods: To describe relationships among variables, a correlational design was used and community-dwelling adults (n=316) recruited from 3 rural sites: Yaruquí (n=120, 38.0%), Tumbaco (n=61, 19.3%), and San Cristóbal (n=135, 42.7%). Subjects completed HHBs (AHA My Life Check Health Assessment diet/lab), RF knowledge [Heart Disease Fact (Yaruquí only)], and HL [Newest Vital Sign [HL (Yaruquí only)] questionnaires. Total/HDL cholesterol and glucose were determined using a CardioChek analyzer.
Results: Subjects were female (69.9%) and unmarried (71.7%) with 8.8±4.6 years of education and $817.76±$1,359.89 of annual income. Daily, 1.4±1.2 fruits, 1.1±.9 vegetables, 3 whole grain servings, and sodium <1500 mg were eaten by 39.6%, 36.3%, respectively. 2 fish servings and no sugar beverages were ingested weekly by 51.7%, 62.8%, respectively. Subjects self-reported 139.9+369.7 minutes of moderate and 52.8±146.0 minutes of vigorous activity weekly. Only 63.7% knew their BP while 99.0% and 98.4% did not know their cholesterol or blood sugar. Subjects (n=119) correctly Identified (84.9-97.4%) smoking, hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, inactivity, stress, or CVD family history as CVD RFs. The average systolic BP was 121.3±17.5 and diastolic was 75.2±12.3. The total cholesterol was 187.1±40.1, HDL was 37.7+12.1, and glucose was 91.5+47.0. 16% reported they couldn’t read, and, the average HL score was 2.52±1.33, suggesting limited HL. HHBs, RF knowledge, and RFs were unrelated to HL.
Conclusions: In this primarily low education/income female, rural sample, HDL, fruit, vegetable, and whole grains ingestion was low. RF knowledge was moderate-high while HL was limited but unrelated to other variables. As Ecuador has no integrated action plan for RF reduction, focused attention on diet and physical activity is warranted.