One in four South Asians in US have diabetes: Study

Indian origin physicians and cardiologists to collaborate on diabetes and cardiovascular disease education.

Nearly one in four South Asians in America have diabetes, according to a new study on the “Prevalence of Diabetes by Race and Ethnicity in the United States, 2011-2016.”

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Dec 20 by Cheng YJ, Kanaya AM, Araneta MRG among others, the study has far-reaching implications for the South Asian community with respect to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to two associations of medical professionals of Indian origin.

Prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes was found to be 12.1 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 23.3 percent for South Asians, noted the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and the American Association of Cardiologists of Indian Origin (AACIO).

“The 23 percent reflects a critical need for aggressive action towards better prevention and management of diabetes along with the accompanying cardiovascular risk”said Dr. Kamini Trivedi, a family physician, lipidologist, and honorary Board Member of AACIO.

“These valuable data demonstrate the incredibly high, vastly under-appreciated burden of diabetes among South Asians, ” said Deepak L. Bhatt, Executive Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“Particularly distressing is how many South Asians have diabetes without even knowing it,” he said. “This phenomenon is surely fueling the cardiovascular epidemic among South Asians.”

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US, spending over $500 billion on cardiovascular disease each year, according to disease and stroke statistics of American Heart Association cited by AAPI.

AAPI and AACIO medical societies together comprised of several tens of thousands of physicians of Indian origin in the US immediately held a joint meeting to discuss the results of the study.

Led by Dr. Brahma Sharma, a prominent cardiologist affiliated with VA University of Pittsburgh and serving as the Chair of the AAPI Ad Hoc Committee on South Asian Cardiovascular Disease, the meeting decided to work with increased collaboration to educate both physicians and the US South Asian community.

Education about lifestyle modification, including culturally appropriate nutrition and physical activity, along with guideline recommended medical therapy will be the foundation of educational efforts, AAPI said in a press release.

“We have the talent, skills, strength, and the commitment.  Let’s put them to work and help our community, ” said AAPI  president Dr. Suresh Reddy, a neuroradiologist.

Noting that the joint efforts of AAPI and AACIO will require a coming together of various stakeholders who are leading valuable efforts on South Asian diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the two associations invited interested physicians and other stakeholders to contact Vijaya Kodali at  vkodali@aapiusa.org,

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