Indian American Lawmaker Pramila Jayapal Re-Introduces Bill to Curb Heart Diseases in South AsiansHealthy Living

June 06, 2019 04:07
Indian American Lawmaker Pramila Jayapal Re-Introduces Bill to Curb Heart Diseases in South Asians

South Asians, the second fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, have a higher death rate from the disease than any other ethnic group. On that account, an Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal on Wednesday re-introduced bipartisan legislation in the United States House of Representatives that aims to raise awareness about the alarming rate of heart disease in the South Asian community, including Indians, and invest in reversing this trend.

Known as “South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act”, the bill is co-sponsored by Republican Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina, who said there is a need to take action to reverse the trend of heart disease in the South Asian Community.

The bill will create South Asian heart health promotion grants at the Centers for Disease Control to develop a clearinghouse and web portal of information on South Asian heart health, develop culturally appropriate materials to promote heart health in the community members.

"Heart disease in the South Asian community has risen to an alarmingly disproportionate level. Our bill will fund research and analysis to identify solutions to these preventable circumstances and ultimately save more lives," said Congresswoman Jayapal, 53, introducing the Bill.

"Not only will we prevent deaths within this specific community, but we will pave the way to increased awareness and a better understanding of heart health that will have impacts on the health and well-being of every American," said the 53-year-old Democrat from Washington, D.C.

According to the American College of Cardiology President Richard Kovacs, South Asians living in the United States are more likely to die from heart disease than other Americans. "The American College of Cardiology strongly supports passage of the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2019, which would greatly expand research and outreach efforts necessary to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health among our South Asian population," he said.

According to studies, South Asians in the United States, people who immigrated from or whose families immigrated from countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease in their communities. They have four times the risk of heart disease than the general population, have a much greater chance of having a heart attack before age 50 and have emerged as the ethnic group with the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes - a leading cause of heart disease.

Among other things, the bill provides grants to work with community groups involved in South Asian heart health promotion; Fund grants through the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on cardiovascular disease and other heart ailments among South Asian populations living in the U.S. It also includes a Sense of Congress that U.S. medical schools should include, as part of their nutrition curriculum, a focus on cultural differences in diets and ways to achieve optimal nutrition in communities that experience substantial heart disease.

Several organizations like the American Heart Association, the Asia-Pacific Islander American health forum, Women Heart: National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, the Mediators of Atherosclerosis among South Asians Living in America (MASALA) and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) support the bill.

By Sowmya Sangam

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