Washington Congressmember Pramila Jayapal re-introduced the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act on June 5. This bipartisan bill aims to raise awareness regarding the alarming rate of heart disease in the South Asian community and invest in reversing this trend.
“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 Jayapal. “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 wellbeing of every American.”
Studies have shown that South Asians in the United States—people who emigrated from or whose families emigrated from countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal—have four times the risk of heart disease than the general population. They also 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.
Specifically, 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 South Asian community, and 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 United States;
- Include 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.
The bipartisan bill is backed by the American Heart Association, the Asian Pacific Islander American health forum, and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.