House Resolution 3592: support South Asian Heart Health

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Please write to your State Representative in support of the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2017, HR 3592. https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr3592/BILLS-115hr3592ih.xml   

This  bill will promote recognition of the high risk of heart disease seen in our growing South Asian population, and develop treatment strategies that ultimately will save lives.  The federal government’s investment in research and prevention of heart disease, especially in the highest risk groups, will reduce long-term utilization of health care dollars.  Through previous and ongoing research supported by the NIH, we have already learned the following: 

  • South Asians living in the U.S. have on average 4x higher risk for heart disease compared to the general population.

  • Heart disease presents in South Asians at younger ages (5--10 years earlier) compared to other groups, with heart attacks often occurring before age 50.

  • The proportion of death due to heart disease is significantly higher in South Asians compared to other race/ethnic groups, especially at younger ages.

  • Research has shown that, through early screening for heart disease and risk factors, along with development of culturally tailored prevention programs, heart disease risk in the South Asian population can be lowered, saving lives while also significantly reducing health care costs.

 

SPECIFICALLY, this bill will:

  1. Create South Asian Heart Health Promotion Grants at the Centers for Disease Control to develop a clearinghouse and web portal of information on South Asian heart health, develop culturally appropriate materials to promote heart health in the South Asian community, and provide grants to work with community groups involved in South Asian heart health promotion;

  2. Authorize grants through NIH to conduct research on cardiovascular disease and other heart ailments among South Asian populations living in the United States;

  3. Authorize grants through USDA’s extramural science granting agency, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, for the promotion of South Asian heart health nutrition; and

  4. Include a Sense of Congress that U.S. medical schools should include as part of their nutrition curriculum, a focus on South Asian diet and ways to achieve optimal nutrition in these populations.

If you support the bill, please use the information below to reach out to your representative and ask them to support HR 3592.

STEP-BY STEP INFO TO CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE 

STEP-BY STEP INFO TO CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE

 

  1. Go to the link to find your representative. https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative. You can enter your home zip code to find your representative. After you find your representative, you can click on their name to go to their website. On the website, go to the “Contact” tab and find the phone number to their office.

  2. You can call your representative during normal business hours and talk to a staff member. Please mention that you are a resident and provide them with your contact information and state that you are calling to support the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2017, HR 3592. If you would like you can mention any specific personal reason why you would like to support this bill. Below is an example for your reference.

“I am calling to support HR 3592. I am a xx year old South Asian female and this bill affects me and my family members personally. I know of friends and family members affected by heart disease and this bill will help create awareness about this important health issue.

EMAIL TO BE SENT TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IF YOU ARE A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Sample letter if you are a physician or health professional

Sample letter if you are a constituent

How do our social networks influence our health?

Many of us recognize that family, friends, peers, and coworkers play an important role in our lives. For a long time, health care has focused mostly on individuals, without considering how the people around us might influence our health and health behaviors. But now, there is growing interest in the power of social connectedness, the importance of social support, and the influences individuals have on one another’s behavior.

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Social network analysis is a useful tool to study relationships and the flow of information between individuals, groups, and organizations.  This may be especially important for South Asians, who place great importance on their family and community.  In the MASALA study, we are studying the connections between social networks and the MASALA study participants’ diet, physical activity, weight, physical and mental health.  MASALA is the first study to investigate how social networks influence health in the South Asian community.  Understanding the social lives and relationships of South Asians and how they are linked to health can help inform more effective health behavior programs for our community. 

We recently published two papers on social networks in MASALA. We found that South Asians have a relatively large social networks, consisting mostly of family members and individuals who are also South Asian. Social networks that were more dense (when network members know each other), emotionally closer, and were comprised mostly of family were more likely to talk about health with each other. 

In a second paper, we looked at whether the body size of network members was associated with the MASALA participants’ perception of a “healthy” body size. We found that if the network members had larger body sizes, then the MASALA participant thought of larger body sizes as “healthy.” As a next step, we will look at whether these perceptions about healthy body size and the network members’ body size are associated with weight gain in MASALA participants.

Learn more about how social networks influence South Asians’ health by reading two papers that were recently published in peer reviewed scientific journals.

Social network body size is associated with body size norms of South Asian adults

Personal social networks and organizational affiliation of South Asians in the United States

 

Completion of Exam 2 Visits and Recruitment

Completion of Exam 2 Visits and Recruitment

Thank you for your help in getting us to the finish line this month. As of early March, we have completed our second clinical exams for the MASALA study and have seen a total of 749 (83%) people from our original sample of 906 participants! We have also added another 257 new participants to our study.