A recent study suggests that long-time residents of Canada may not be as healthy as new immigrants. This study was conducted by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services. It compiled data from 1996-2007 on immigrants who came to Canada from different parts of the world. The research focused primarily on residents in Ontario. More than a quarter of a million people come to Canada every year. Immigrants have been coming to Canada for decades.
The findings suggested that people who have been living in the area for a long period of time were at higher risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases. Maria Chiu said these findings are nothing new. She argues that doctors have known for years that the health of their immigrant patients has deteriorated after they moved to Canada. What health experts did not know was how changes in patients’ health was affected by their ethnicity. This was a question that was specifically addressed in the study.
The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services wants answers to the new question it faces. One mystery is why these factors are so heavily influenced by ethnicity. Chinese immigrants who had been living in Canada for many years were much more likely to contract cardiovascular diseases than Chinese immigrants who just arrived to the country. The effect was also noticed in other ethnic groups, although not as strongly in South Asians.
The study compared residents who had been living in Ontario for 15 years with those who had been moved to Canada within the past 15 years. The study involved over 160,000 participants. Of those subjects, about 150,000 were white. The remaining 9,000 subjects were evenly distributed between Chinese, South Asian and black subjects.
The study also concluded that individuals with other risk factors such as diabetes or obesity were more likely to experience a high likelihood of developing heart disease.
Researchers argued that new clinical practices continue to reduce the mortality rates of citizens who develop coronary diseases or diabetes. However, they are perplexed by the higher incidences of the diseases.
Although the study is concerning to many people, researchers hope to have some answers in the future. They believe that better understanding the correlation between the length of time someone lives in Canada and their likelihood of developing health problems will help them implement better health policies in the future. Vincent Bowman is the research director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation in Ontario. He is optimistic that answers will be found. He says: “Having a better understanding of how length of time living in Canada impacts cardiovascular risk factors will help us to develop tailored prevention strategies to ensure the long-term heart health of all Canadians.”
The study by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services sheds some more light on a mystery that has baffled Canadian physicians and epidemiologists for years. Now, they are also asking themselves why certain ethnic groups experience a more dramatic change in their health over time. Hopefully, additional studies will explain this phenomenon in more detail.