Pramila Jayapal re-introduces legislation addressing South Asian heart disease

WASHINGTON:Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal on Wednesday re-introduced a bipartisan legislation in the US 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.

Co-sponsored by Republican Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina, the bill known as “South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act” 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 DC.

Jayapal on Tuesday become the first South Asian American woman to preside over the US House of Representatives.There is a need to take action to reverse the trend of heart disease in the South Asian Community, Wilson said.

According to American College of Cardiology President Richard Kovacs, South Asians living in the US 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.

Studies have shown that South Asians in the US 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 provide 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 US.

It also includes a Sense of Congress that US medical schools should include, as part of their nutrition curriculum, a focus on cultural differences in diets and ways to achieve omal nutrition in communities that experience substantial heart disease.

Several organisations 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 Organisations (AAPCHO support the bill.