AAPI-AHA to create awareness on heart ailments in Indian community

Joint initiative to have a trifold course of action.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: The American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) and the American Heart Association (AHA) are launching a joint initiative to spread education on the causes and preventative measures associated with heart attacks and strokes among Indians and Indian-Americans.

Signing a Letter of Intent (LoI) earlier this week, the two organizations plan to institute a trifold course of action: introducing AHA curriculum into medical schools in India, work with community-based programs in both the US and India to teach people about heart ailments, and develop a “Training Faculty in Resuscitation.”

“American Heart Association is the global leader in medical research and practice,” said AAPI-AHA Liaison Committee Chairman Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy, in a statement. “Heart disease and stroke are not stopped by borders and neither are the efforts to stop them. A strong relationship between researchers and clinicians will allow the transfer of the latest knowledge into state-of-the art medical practice[s].”

The LoI comes ahead of a meeting between the two organizations that is scheduled to take place on November 17th in Dallas, Texas, as part of a larger AHA conference entitled “Scientific Sessions 2013.” The letter will also play a major part in AAPI’s upcoming conference in January 2014.

“As we are nearing the 8th Global Health Summit in Ahmedabad, India, the signing of the LOI could not have come at a more opportune time,” said AAPI President Dr. Jayesh Shah, in a statement. “With participation of U.S. Physicians of Indian origin and their counterparts in India, the [AHA] and AAPI conferences are expected to strengthen the ongoing collaboration.”

Heart disease is the #1 killer of Indians, according to a study by the Registrar General of India and the Indian Council of Medical Research. People originating from India have become known in recent years for their higher proclivity towards heart-related health problems than people of other ethnicities. According to figures released by the World Health Organization:

  • Indians account for 60% of the world’s heart disease patients
  • Over 1.6 million Indians will have a stroke by the year 2015
  • Of those 1.6 million stroke sufferers, at least one-third of them will incur permanent disabilities as a result of the stroke
  • 50% of all Indians who experience a heart attack do so before the age of 50
  • 25% of all Indians who experience a heart attack do so before the age of 40
  • The factors for the unusually high number of heart-related fatalities among Indians include: smoking, lack of physical activity, unhealthy food habits, genetics, and stress
  • Worldwide, by 2015, heart disease and heart-related afflictions will claim close to 20 million lives

With over 345 medical colleges in India and over 41,000 medical students at them, Dr. Murthy, AAPI and the AHA know that the task ahead of them is a daunting one, but it is one that they’re not afraid of.

AAPI has been in the news recently for its efforts to lobby Congress towards tweaking and ultimately passsing its comprehensive immigration reform legislation, largely in an effort to ease the immigration of Indian physicians to the US.

Speaking to The American Bazaar after the Capitol Hill Symposium last month, AAPI President Dr. Shah warned of an impending physician shortage that will hit the US by 2050 if more isn’t done to make it easier for foreign doctors to practice in this country.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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