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Why Do South Asians Have Higher Rates Of Heart Diseases? Researchers Have Found The Answers

University of California, San Francisco and Northwestern University have revealed that South Asian have higher rates of heart diseases and that is due to various factors.

New York Times interviewed researchers who said that despite having a healthy lifestyle, South Asians have higher risks of heart diseases due to ancestral lineage and genetics. Under the study known as MASALA (Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America), 900 South Asians are being examined.

The researchers have so far found that South Asians tend to develop high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes at lower body weights compared to any other groups. The study also found that South Asians were ‘stronger candidates’ for statin medication than others.

The study was initiated by Dr. Alka Kanaya, a UOC professor and a South Asian herself, who lost several friends and family members to heart diseases. Talking to NYT, she said: “South Asians represent almost 20 to 25 percent of the world’s population, and this is a major public health problem in this huge population.”

Dr Kanaya did CT Scans on the 900 participants and found that South Asians had a greater tendency to store body fat in places where it should not be e.g. the liver, abdomen and the muscles. This, the study added, causes greater metabolic damage than normal fat.

It was also revealed that 44 percent of the normal weight South Asians they examined had two or more metabolic abnormalities e.g. high blood pressure and hypertension. In comparison, only 21% of whites with normal weight faced such problems.

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Among South Asians living in America, two groups were at a greater risk of heart diseases. One which lived by South Asian customs and diet and the other which had an extremely Western lifestyle. The group which remained at a low risk was which had the best balance between the two cultures.

According to National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) Prof. Khawar Kazmi, 46 people in Pakistan die every hour due to heart diseases. The number has dramatically increased since 2015 as 3 years ago, 12 people died every hour due to heart diseases.

He said the high numbers could be reduced and prevented by lifestyle modifications.

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