CHICAGO–About 23 percent South Asians in the United States have diabetes, and this compares with 12.1 percent for non-Hispanic whites, according to a research published in JAMA on December 20, 2019 by Cheng YJ, Kanaya AM, Araneta MRG, and entitled “Prevalence of Diabetes by Race and Ethnicity in the United States, 2011-2016.”
The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) together with the American Association of Cardiologists of Indian Origin (AACIO) jointly acknowledged that the data generated by these authors has far-reaching implications for the South Asian community with respect to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In the above study, diabetes prevalence (diagnosed and undiagnosed) was found to be 12.1% for non-Hispanic whites and 23.3% for South Asians.
“The 23% 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.
In addition, Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School stated, “These valuable data demonstrate the incredibly high, vastly underappreciated burden of diabetes among South Asians. Particularly distressing is how many South Asians have diabetes without even knowing it. This phenomenon is surely fueling the cardiovascular epidemic among South Asians.”
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., spending over $500 billion on cardiovascular disease each year.
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, led the meeting of the two organizations in which Dr. Trivedi and Dr. Bhatt participated alongside the current President of AAPI, Dr. Suresh Reddy, a neuroradiologist. Dr. Navin Nanda, MD, DSc (Hon), Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and an internationally renowned cardiologist, Dr. Hanumant K. Reddy, current President of AACIO, and Dr. Vishal Gupta, President-Elect of AACIO, have offered their leadership on behalf of AACIO in conjunction with AAPI’s leadership towards addressing these challenges.
Dr Nanda, who is past President and incorporator of AAPI as well as the Founding President of AACIO pointed out that the results of the study are similar to those conducted by Dr. Naresh Parikh and him in the Atlanta area in 2004 which also showed, for the first time, a high prevalence of diabetes mellitus in South Asians living in the USA, 18.3% overall with 22.5% in men and 13.6% in women.
The JAMA paper along with CDC’s press release on this paper were discussed at the joint AACIO-AAPI leadership meeting. AAPI and AACIO conducted preliminary brainstorming on strategy and will now work with increased collaboration to educate both physicians and the U.S. 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.
Dr. Suresh Reddy on behalf of AAPI stated, “We have the talent, skills, strength, and the commitment. Let’s put them to work and help our community.”
Dr. Sharma expressed that the authors of this JAMA study deserve high praise. 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. AAPI and AACIO would like to amplify their various efforts and welcome collaboration.
Physicians as well as other interested stakeholders who are interested in joining and shaping the collaborations with AAPI and AACIO should contact Vijaya Kodali at Vkodali@aapiusa.org.