The South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act passed the House of Representatives on Sept. 29. The bipartisan legislation will raise awareness about heart disease in South Asian communities throughout the United States, while investing in strategies to reverse this deadly trend.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the first South Asian American woman ever elected to Congress, said, “I am proud that the House passed my bipartisan legislation as a significant step in raising the alarm, reversing the trend of heart disease in our communities, and saying to South Asian American communities across the country, we see you and we are ready to help.”
The legislation would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to create grants to provide funding for community groups involved in South Asian heart health promotion and to develop culturally appropriate materials to promote heart health in the South Asian community.
It would also direct the HHS Secretary to fund grants through the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on cardiovascular disease and other heart ailments among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease.
Studies have shown that 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.
South Asians make up 25% of the world’s population, but 50% of global cardiovascular deaths. Additionally, South Asian Americans are four times more at risk of developing 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, which is a leading cause of heart disease.
Seattle has been among the top five metro areas in the country when it comes to the population of certain South Asian groups.