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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Asians more at risk of heart disease
Asia
Heart disease among Asians is increasing
People from South Asia are more likely to suffer from heart disease than Europeans or Chinese, a study has suggested.

Research carried out at McMaster University, in Ontario, Canada, examined cardiovascular disease rates among almost 1,000 people of Chinese, European and South Asian ethnic origin.

The study found a higher risk of cardiovascular disease was linked to a condition called carotid atherosclerosis.

Asian sweets
Diet may be factor

This condition was much more common among South Asians than among Europeans and Chinese.

Atherosclerosis is the progressive narrowing and hardening of the arteries. It can occur as a result of ageing but also as a result of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes.

It is regarded as a major cause of heart disease. When it affects the carotid artery, which carries blood from the heart to the brain, it can lead to stroke.

Variations

The researchers suggested that the variations between ethnic groups may be caused by differences in the way the disease develops.

They added, however, that it could also be due to other undiscovered factors - diet is thought to play a significant role.

Dr Azaher Farooqi
Dr Azaher Farooqi said Asian people needed targeted advice

Dr Sonia Anand, from McMaster University, said it was important to identify the reasons for increased risk among Asians.

"Given that south Asians and Chinese represent over half of the world's population and the rates of CVD in these groups are increasing, determining the unique risk factors for CVD among these groups is critical in order to develop tailored strategies for the prevention of CVD."

A spokeswoman for the British Heart Foundation said it was funding research to examine why South Asians in the UK have a high incidence of heart disease.

It is also working to raise awareness of heart disease among the Asian population. "However the question of why South Asians in the UK have a high incidence of heart disease cannot be answered easily," she said.

"BHF statistics show that the death rate from coronary heart disease is 46% higher in South Asian men than the UK population as a whole, for women it is 51% higher.

"There are many factors that may contribute to this disparity such as differences in diet, levels of physical activity and the incidence of diabetes.

"Inequalities around access to healthcare including prevention, diagnosis and treatment are also likely to be major factors that disadvantage South Asian people and contribute to the higher incidence of heart disease in this group."

Dr Azaher Farooqi, works for a project in Leicester designed to give Asian people practical advice to reduce the risk of heart disease.

He said the NHS must offer specially targeted health care.

He said: "It needs to make sure that the information and advice given to south Asian communities is culturally sensitive and relevant to them.

"It also needs to make sure that the quality of health service offered in inner city deprived areas is equivalent to elsewhere."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"No one knows why Asians are so vulnerable"
See also:

05 Jun 00 | Health
23 Jun 00 | Health
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