Cardiovascular Disease among South Asians


I identify myself as an Indian American. The health disparity that I chose was cardiovascular disease among South Asians. I chose the group South Asians because it is a larger group of people from within the same geographical region. The group South Asian includes Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and anyone whose ethnic roots originate from the Indian subcontinent. The graph above shows the percentage of males and females from various ethnic backgrounds and their risk for cardiovascular disease. As you can see, the South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi) population had higher percentages compared to the other ethnicities. South Asian women seemed to have higher risks than men according to the graph. 

During one of our lectures we also discussed how there is a relationship between wealth and health. Most of the time the more money you have the better health condition you are in, because you can afford better healthcare, hygiene, etc. According to Boston Scientific, “Although Indians are the highest socioeconomic group in the U.S., and one of the best educated, the Kaiser Study found that the hospitalization rate for heart disease among its Indian patients was four times that of its non-Indian patients.” This goes to show that wealth alone does not guarantee better health conditions. There are other underlying factors involved. Culture and diet also play a vital role in health. Many Indians are vegetarians due to religious beliefs. According to an article by Boston Scientific, “Indian vegetarians tend to avoid fish (which is highly cardioprotective when it contains omega-3 fats) and to eat a lot of saturated dairy fat, trans fats, and high glycemic carbohydrates.” This type of diet can be one of the causes for higher risks of cardiovascular diseases.

There is definitely a relationship between race, genetics, and health. When mutations occur within a specific race that is beneficial towards their existence, it is passed on to future generations. This is called natural selection. When there is a closely knit population that doesn’t marry outside of their race, gene flow occurs and that mutation stays within that race. The example that was mentioned during lecture was about the Thrifty Genotype within the population of U.S. Pima. The comparison between U.S. Pima and Mexican Pima showed drastic differences between their chances of getting diabetes. U.S. Pima were 5 and a half times more likely to get diabetes than Mexican Pima. This is due to the differences in their lifestyle. Mexican Pima are more active than U.S. Pima which lowers their chances of getting diabetes. 

Boston Scientific Corporation. “South Asian Americans and Cardiovascular Disease.” . (accessed July 11, 2014).

Cardio Wellness. “Health Inequality.” . (accessed July 11, 2014).

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