Jayapal’s South Asian Heart health bill moves up

Pramila Jayapal
Rep. Pramila Jayapal; American Bazaar file photo

House to vote on Indian American lawmaker’s bill later in September.

The US House is set to vote on a bill to raise awareness about the alarming rate of heart disease in South Asian communities in the US while investing in strategies to reverse this deadly trend.

The bipartisan legislation moved by Indian American House member Pramila Jayapal was passed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last week.

The full House of Representatives is expected to vote on the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act (H.R. 3131) later this month.

“As the first South Asian American woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, I am fully committed to not only raising awareness and educating the South Asian community about the risk factors for heart disease but also ensuring that those living with heart disease receive the care, treatment, resources and support they need,” said Jayapal.

“I am proud that this urgently necessary legislation passed committee today (Sept. 9) and I won’t stop fighting until it becomes law.”

READ: Jayapal, Wilson re-introduce ‘South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act’ (June 6, 2019)

Jayapal cited studies showing that South Asians in the US —people who immigrated from or whose families immigrated from countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal — are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease.

South Asians make up 25 percent of the world’s population but 50 percent of global cardiovascular deaths.

Additionally, South Asian Americans are four times more at risk of developing 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, which is a leading cause of heart disease.

The South Asian American community across the US grew by nearly 40 percent between 2010 and 2017.

READ: One in four South Asians in US have diabetes: Study (December 23, 2019)

Jayapal’s legislation would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to create grants, such as South Asian Heart Health Promotion Grants at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide funding for community groups involved in South Asian heart health promotion and to develop culturally appropriate materials to promote heart health in the South Asian community.

It would also direct the HHS Secretary to fund grants through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research on cardiovascular disease and other heart ailments among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease, such as South Asian populations living in the US, and develop a clearinghouse and web portal of information on heart health research, such as South Asian heart health.

The bipartisan legislation — originally introduced in 2017 with Republican Congressman Joe Wilson — has 40 co-sponsors in the House.

It is endorsed among others by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, South Asian Public Health Association, Hindu American Foundation, Hindu American Physicians in Seva, South Asian Health Lifestyle Intervention and South Asian Heart Center.

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