Jayapal, Wilson re-introduce ‘South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act’

Rep. Pamila Jayapal. Credit: Twitter.

Jayapal says the “bill will fund research and analysis to identify solutions to these preventable circumstances and ultimately save more lives.”

According to cardiologists, the risk of coronary heart diseases in first generation South Asian Americans is nearly 50 percent higher than in the Caucasian population. In an attempt to raise awareness about the alarming rate of heart diseases in the South Asian American community and reverse this trend, Indian American Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) has re-introduced the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act.

The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC).

“Heart disease in the South Asian community has risen to an alarmingly disproportionate level,” Jayapal said. “Our bill will fund research and analysis to identify solutions to these preventable circumstances and ultimately save more lives.”

The Washington Democrat added: “Not only will we prevent deaths within this specific community, but we will pave the way to increased awareness and a better understanding of heart health that will have impacts on the health and well-being of every American.”

Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, said: “I’m grateful to join Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal as a co-lead of the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act to create South Asian Heart Health Promotion Grants at the Centers for Disease Control, strengthen grant funding for heart health in these populations at the National Institutes of Health, and to expand tools and education to focus on cultural differences.”

Various studies have shown that South Asian Americans — people who immigrated from, or whose families immigrated from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal — have a dramatically high rate of heart disease. They have four times the risk of heart disease than the general population, have a much greater chance of having a heart attack before age 50 and have emerged as the ethnic group with the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, a leading cause of heart disease.

Stressing on the need for the bill, American College of Cardiology President Richard J. Kovacs, said, “South Asians living in the US are more likely to die from heart disease than other Americans. The American College of Cardiology strongly supports passage of the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2019, which would greatly expand research and outreach efforts necessary to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health among our South Asian population. We thank Congresswoman Jayapal for her leadership and look forward to working with Congress and our counterparts in the health care space to move this bill forward.”

Jayapal had introduced a similar bill in 2017. However, the “South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2017” (H.R.3592) died in the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research. It had 42 cosponsors, including Wilson and the three other Indian American members of Congress, Reps. Ami Bera (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

Read the text of the bill here.

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