South Asian Community Impact Project
The American Heart Association (AHA) is a catalyst to achieving maximum impact on equitable health and wellbeing in the United States and around the world, spanning all populations, anchored in cardiovascular and brain health. Unfortunately, cardiovascular diseases are the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year – a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030.
We want to empower our community to come together and create new opportunities, new connections and new insights that drive and amplify our collective mission; to reduce the impact of cardiovascular diseases and stroke and build healthier lives. To that end, the AHA seeks to establish the Heart of Community Impact Project (The Project). The Project will focus on health equity through advocacy, policy, education and systems and social change for priority communities, focusing on the South Asian community on Long Island.
Why is the Heart of Community Impact Project a priority for South Asian Americans living on Long Island? Heart disease is the leading killer of adults nationwide, and South Asians, the second fastest-growing ethnic group in America, have a higher death rate from the disease than any other ethnic group. People of South Asian descent, which includes countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives, have four times the risk of heart disease compared to the general population, and they develop the disease up to a decade earlier. The reasons are varied: South Asians are more likely to develop diabetes early and have bad cholesterol, according to Annabelle Santos Volgman, lead author of the report and medical director of the Rush Heart Center for Woman at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Both diabetes and bad cholesterol increase the risk of early “atherosclerosis,” a disease in which plaque builds up in arteries that can cause heart disease. “We don’t have an answer to why South Asians have a higher risk of diabetes, but there are many genetic theories that have not been substantiated,” Volgman said. “This is why we wanted to increase the awareness about lifestyle changes that can decrease their risk of diabetes and the deleterious lipid panel.
The Project will focus on and support pillars of greatest importance: children’s health, childhood and adult obesity, education and awareness with the goal to create healthier communities.
The American Heart Association (AHA), in collaboration with a local Long Island Steering Committee, consisting of 10-15 members, will have the opportunity to directly impact the South Asian Community on Long Island through our Healthy for Good™ movement which was designed to drive health transformation in multicultural communities for improved health outcomes. The platform will allow the AHA to host a connected series of workshops focused on keystones of health equity in multiple congregations across Long Island.