Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and global health expert Gayathri Badrinath co-authored an op-ed in The Hill that urged bold action to address the lack of awareness about the unique and growing heart health risks of South Asian Americans.
South Asian Americans are four times more at risk of developing heart disease than the general population, according to a report published in the Circulation of the American Heart Association. The lead author Annabelle Santos Volgman, reported that early onset diabetes and bad cholesterol were contributing factors that increased the risk of early “atherosclerosis,” a condition in which plaque deposits in arteries causes heart disease.
South Asians are more likely to have a heart attack before the age of 50 and are now the group with the highest risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Studies also show that the lack of exercise or physical activity puts South Asians at greater risk for heart disease, in addition to other contributing factors like diet, obesity or insulin resistance. However, there remains a lack of awareness within the community about making key lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk for heart disease.
The op-ed in The Hill accentuated the lack of awareness among South Asian Americans about the “staggering epidemic of heart disease” in their communities and emphasized the immediate need for education and outreach to the medical establishment and South Asians (of Indian Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, or Nepalese descent ) across the country. It also referenced the bipartisan bill – the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2019 – introduced by Jayapal and U.S. Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) in June last year, to develop and disseminate culturally appropriate informational material for the South Asian community.
U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal represents Washington’s 7th District and is the first South Asian American woman elected to Congress. She is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a member of the Judiciary, Education & Labor, and Budget Committees.
Gayathri Badrinath is the Founder & CEO of Devyn, a company developing precision digital therapeutics for women and dedicated to advancing the health of women globally. Prior to founding Devyn, Gayathri spent more than 20 years in global health care organizations across the pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics industries. She is a Board member at WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Heart Disease.