A key US Congressional committee has advanced a bipartisan bill which aims to promote heart health among citizens of South Asian-origin, amidst an alarming rise in heart disease among them in the country.
Promoted by Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act was advanced to a vote before the full House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The act stipulates raising awareness on the alarming rate of heart disease in South Asian communities in the United States while investing in strategies to reverse the deadly trend.
“As the first South Asian-American woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, I am fully committed to not only raising awareness and educating the South Asian community about the risk factors for heart disease but also ensuring that those living with heart disease receive the care, treatment, resources and support they need,” Jayapal said, after the bill was passed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
“I am proud that this urgently necessary legislation passed (the) committee today and I won”t stop fighting until it becomes law,” said the Representative for Washington”s 7th Congressional district.
The legislation directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to create grants, such as South Asian Heart Health Promotion Grants at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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 also asks the HHS secretary to fund grants through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research on cardiovascular disease and other heart ailments among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease, such as South Asian populations living in the United States, and develop a clearinghouse and web portal of information on heart health research, such as South Asian heart health.
Studies have shown that immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease. South Asians make up 25 per cent of the world’s population but they contribute 50 per cent to 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 the age of 50 and have emerged as the ethnic group with the highest prevalence of type 2 diabetes, which is a leading cause of heart disease.
The South Asian-American community across the United States grew by nearly 40 per cent between 2010 and 2017.
The bipartisan legislation was originally introduced in 2017 by Republican congressman Joe Wilson.
It now has 40 co-sponsors in the House and is endorsed by more than a dozen organisations, including American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, American Stroke Association, Women Heart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, South Asian Public Health Association, Hindu American Foundation, Hindu American Physicians in Seva, South Asian Health Lifestyle Intervention, MASALA, AAPCHO, Mended Hearts, Bangladesh Medical Association of North America and South Asian Heart Center.