AAPI Holds Educational Webinar On South Asian Heart Disease: Current Concepts in Better Prediction, Detection and Prevention of Heart Attack in South Asians

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and the nation spends over $500 billion on cardiovascular disease each year. Studies have shown that immigrants from 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 they contribute 60 percent of global cardiovascular deaths.

In this context, as part of an ongoing awareness and education campaign about high-risk heart disease in South Asians, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) the largest ethnic medical organization in the United States presented two eminent speakers and experts, discussing ways to create awareness on South Asian Heart Disease: Current Concepts in Better Prediction, Detection And Prevention of Heart Attack in South Asians during a webinar on Saturday, October 1, 2022. 

Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, CEO of Verve Therapeutics, Brood Institute, MIT & Harvard, spoke on “Genomics of Cardiovascular Disease and Potential Use of Genomic in Better Prediction in South Asians,” and Dr. Jaideep Patel addressed the audience on “Early Detection of Coronary Atherosclerosis By Coronary Calcium Score And Coronary CTA, Especially Among South Asians.” 

In his remarks, Dr. Ravi Kolli, President of AAPI, said,” In the context of World Heart Day on September 29th, today’s conference is being organized to educate and create awareness about the major health issue faced by South Asians and offer ways to mitigate heart disease. Dr. Kolli said, “Today’s CME is focused on Recent Advances in South Asian Heart Disease by 2 eminent Indian American physicians who are in the forefront of research and treatment of this deadly disease. It is forward-looking information focusing on cutting edge technologies that can alter the treatment from chronic care model to once and done type of innovative therapies and latest recommendation for actively screening and offering early preventive care to treat cardiovascular disease, especially among the South Asians.”  

During his detailed presentation, Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, a physician-scientist, and a human geneticist, who leverages human genetics to understand the root causes of heart attack and to improve preventive cardiac care, shared about his scientific contributions, that have helped highlight new biological mechanisms underlying heart attack, discovered mutations that protect against heart attack risk, and developed a genetic test for personalized heart attack prevention.

According to him, both genetic and lifestyle factors contribute to individual-level risk of coronary artery disease. The extent to which increased genetic risk can be offset by a healthy lifestyle is unknown. Citing data, Dr. Kathiresan said, across four studies involving 55,685 participants, genetic and lifestyle factors were independently associated with susceptibility to coronary artery disease. Among participants with high genetic risk, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a nearly 50% lower relative risk of coronary artery disease than was an unfavorable lifestyle. 

Dr. Sekar Kathiresan is the co-founder and CEO of Verve Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new approach to the care of cardiovascular disease, transforming treatment from chronic management to single-course gene editing medicines. Dr. Kathiresan is a cardiologist and scientist who has focused his career on understanding the inherited basis for heart attack and leveraging those insights to improve the care of cardiovascular disease. Based on his groundbreaking discoveries in human genetic mutations that confer resistance to cardiovascular disease

Dr. Jaideep Patel, in his presentation on “Coronary Atherosclerosis By Coronary Calcium Score And Coronary CTA” drew the attention of the audience to the Coronary Calcium Scoring algorithm, which is capable of automatically calculating a patient’s Agatston equivalent coronary calcium score from ECG gated CT scan, provides physicians with important data used in the assessment of the risk for coronary artery disease.

Dr. Jaideep Patel is a cardiologist in Baltimore, Maryland and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including at the Heart & Vascular Center at Johns Hopkins University, with primary focus on Preventive Cardiology, pointed out that usual risk scoring has been done on Caucasians and cannot be extrapolated to south Asians. Citing Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, that he was part of Dr. Patel said, Coronary artery calcium improves risk assessment in adults with a family history of premature coronary heart disease.  Hereditary factors play an important role in the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Indeed, the presence of a family history (FH) of premature coronary heart disease (CHD) was one of the earliest recognized cardiovascular risk factors, he said. 

Dr. Brahma Sharma, Senior Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh affiliated VA Medical Center,  a co-host and moderator of the event, said, “While we are still trying to figure out different mechanisms for this enigma, that should not prevent but rather motivate to follow more aggressively lifestyle modifications and pre-empt and prevent this silent epidemic that is taking a toll on young Indians and South Asians globally.” Dr. Sharma who is serving as the Chair of AAPI South Asian Heart Disease Committee and as the Chair AHA/ AAPI Liaison, sharing on the objectives of the Heart Health Education sessions by AAPI, Dr. Sharma said, “The Webinar is focused on: Better Prediction; Early Detection; and, Effective Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases, especially among the people of South Asian origin.”  

Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, Chair of AAPI CME Committee, said, “In addition to educational webinars, we also plan to take this knowledge to grass root level via conducting mini- health screening camps across different cities with help of local AAPI chapters throughout USA and invite Global South Asian diaspora to join hands in this mission to prevent heart attacks and save lives.”
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Kolli said, “heart disease is the number one Global Public Health problem. South Asians are at a four-times greater risk of heart disease than their western counterparts and have a greater chance of having a heart attack before 50 years of age. Heart attacks strike South Asian Men and Women at younger ages, and as a result, both morbidity and mortality are higher among them compared to any other ethnic group. They tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than other groups. Efforts to raise awareness of heart disease and promote “Healthy Heart” lifestyles is essential.”  For more information on AAPI and its programs, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

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