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The South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Health held its annual benefit event “Inside Edge” on March 17.

Speakers included Cecile Currier, CEO CONCERN: EAP and El Camino Health Vice President, Professional Corporate and Community Health Services, Andrew Cope, President of the El Camino Health Foundation, Ashish Mathur, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the South Asian Heart Center, Dr. César Molina, Co-founder & Medical Director of the South Asian Heart Center and donor-participants Raj Shah and Nickhil Jakatdar.

South Asian Heart Center

Founded in 2006, the South Asian Heart Center was created to help “people who trace their ancestry to the Indian subcontinent countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal,” per the website. This group is at an “increased risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) and diabetes mellitus (DM). Both chronic diseases affect this population disproportionately. South Asians have heart attacks at much younger ages, despite being mostly vegetarian, non-smoking, and not obese.”

“The South Asian Heart Center has prevention programs aimed at helping individuals better understand the impact of lifestyle interventions on their personal metabolic response, blood sugars, and cardiovascular risk,” said Ashish Mathur. “We partner with an increasing number of primary and specialty care providers to complement their medical management with structured, culturally competent lifestyle follow-up provided by the South Asian Heart Center.”

At the heart of the matter

“Originally,” said Dr. César Molina, “we measured everything.” But now the heart scan with coronary calcification is used to identify people at risk. Participant Raj Shah described how the services he used at the South Asian Heart Center helped control his diabetes for the past two years. There is “something special about your coaches,” he said, pointing to the volunteer coaches attending the benefit event. “I’m going to volunteer to be a coach like you.”

Nickhil Jakatdar shared that his wife suggested he go to the South Asian Heart Center where he discovered he was in the 98th percentile of calcification for his age and gender. “Being Indian, initially when I heard the amount I was quite happy,” he said, to which the crowd laughed. Jakatdar played competitive soccer and was mostly vegetarian. “This is not supposed to happen to people like me.”

Caring for the community

Special guest, comedian and cricket presenter, Vikram Sathaye performed while volunteers handed envelopes for donations.

“It’s a community hospital built by the community, supported by the community,” said Andrew Cope at the start of the event. The personal stories of Shah and Jakatdar underscore that importance.

To learn more about the South Asian Heart Center, visit their website at

Sree Sripathy

Sree Sripathy

Sree Sripathy joined India Currents as a photojournalist and CatchLight Local Fellow as part of CatchLight's California Local Visual Desk program in June 2022. Reach out with story ideas or comments at...