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The Heart of the Matter

Jun/07/2024 / by Team Seema

The surprising factors putting South Asian health at greater risk

When it comes to heart health, most people think of diet and exercise. But a new study reveals that social determinants of health—the conditions in which we live, work, and play—may be just as important, especially for South Asian women.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that Asian American adults with unfavorable social factors, such as low income, lack of education, and limited access to healthcare, had a significantly higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This association was particularly strong among those of South Asian descent.

Researchers discovered that Asian Indian adults with more of these unfavorable social determinants were 42% more likely to not get enough exercise and 20% more likely to have poor sleep – both major risk factors for heart disease. This is alarming, given that people of South Asian heritage already face higher rates of premature heart disease globally.

“The Asian American population is the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States,” said lead study author Eugene Yang, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. “People of South Asian heritage have higher rates of premature heart disease globally, and they recently have been found to have higher cardiovascular mortality than non-Hispanic white people. Better understanding of why differences in cardiovascular risk exist among Asian subgroups is vital to reducing risk and improving outcomes.”

By understanding how social determinants impact our heart health, we can better advocate for better access to resources, and healthcare, and work toward fostering the supportive social networks that create a healthier community for all. 


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