The Prevalence of Cardiovascular Disease and Associated Risk Factors in the Old Order Amish in Northern Indiana: A Preliminary Study


  • Deborah Gillum Bethel College
  • Beth Staffileno Rush University
  • Karon Schwartz Bethel College
  • Lola Coke Rush University
  • Louis Fogg Rush University



Background: The Amish are a culturally distinct religious sect who are the fastest growing rural group in the U.S. Little is known about their prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and its risk factors of the Amish The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence rates, risk factors, and types of treatments used to prevent and treat CVD among a sample of the adult Amish in northern Indiana.
Methods: A randomized retrospective chart review (n = 200) from a primary healthcare clinic in a large Amish settlement was conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to determine prevalence rates of CVD, risk factors, and types of medical and alternative health treatments. Prevalence rates were compared to white prevalence rates of the American Heart Association (AHA) 2009.
Results: The overall CVD prevalence was higher among Amish men (n = 105) and women (n = 95) compared to white men and women (38.1% and 44.2% vs. 37.2% and 35%, respectively). Regarding CVD risk factors, there was a higher prevalence of hyperlipidemia when compared to AHA prevalence rates (22.9% and 24.2% vs. 16.1% and 18.2%) but a lower prevalence of Type II diabetes mellitus (4.8% and 5.3% vs. 6.7% and 6.0%) and smoking (9.5% and 2.1% vs. 24% and 20%). Obesity was prevalent with 73.7% of males (n = 19) and 100% (n = 11) of women were overweight or obese. An additional finding was the high prevalence of depression in both Amish genders compared to rural Americans (19.0% and 22.1% vs. 6.1% both genders) and anxiety (11.4% and 14.7% vs.3.6% and 6.6%). The Amish use a wide variety of vitamins and herbal remedies along with prescription medications to prevent and treat CVD.
Conclusion: CVD and its associated risk factors are a concerning health problem in the Amish of northern Indiana.