Bill Introduced To Combat Heart Disease Among South Asians

United States Senator Cory Booker, D-NJ, introduced legislation Feb. 29, 2024, that would establish a grant program aimed at strengthening cardiovascular research, promoting heart disease awareness, and improving health outcomes in the South Asian community in honor of American Heart Month.

The Bill mirrors one introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, and Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina last year in the House of Representatives.

Booker’s South Asian Heart Health Awareness Act would raise awareness about the alarming rates of heart disease for South Asians across the United States while also improving resources for all communities disproportionately impacted by cardiovascular diseases.

Bill Introduced To Combat Heart Disease Among South Asians“Despite the heightened prevalence of cardiovascular diseases among South Asians, their risk for heart disease is not widely understood by the medical community,” Senator Booker said while introducing the bill. “This bill is an important step toward promoting critical research on heart disease, and supporting organizations working to improve heart health for at-risk communities across the nation. To reduce the impact of cardiovascular disease nationally, it is essential to invest in research into communities that are disproportionately at risk.”

Rep. Jayapal, echoing his sentiments, said, “I have seen the devastating impacts of heart disease on our community firsthand, and as the first South Asian American woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, I’m fully committed to increasing understanding of heart disease and the unique risk factor in the South Asian community while ensuring that all those living with it get the resources, treatment, and support they need.”

“No community should face disproportionate health outcomes because of lack of research, understanding, or awareness,” Jayapal added. “I won’t stop fighting for this legislation to make sure we have the research resources and treatments to prevent heart disease cases and deaths in the South Asian community and across the world.”

Rep. Wilson said the Bill expand research and education to benefit those communities most affected by heart disease. “I am grateful that this bipartisan bill passed the house in multiple previous Congresses, and I look forward to its final passage into law,” Wilson added.

Communities of color are disproportionately affected by heart disease with South Asian Americans being particularly at risk, noted Booker’s press release.

The South Asian community has both the highest death rate from heart disease and the highest rate of Type 2 diabetes at lower body weights compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

Despite the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases among South Asians, their risk for heart disease is not widely understood by the medical community. This contributes to a lack of preventative measures being taken which could improve the community’s heart health, the press release said.

Specifically, the South Asian Heart Health Awareness Act would appropriate $2 million for each fiscal year between 2025 and 2029 in planning and implementing grants. These grants can be used to:

  • Develop culturally appropriate materials on topics related to heart health including nutrition, diet planning, and exercise.
  • Support heart health promotion activities in community organizations which work with disproportionately affected communities.
  • Support research conferences or workshops on research practices, methodologies, and designs which include more members of communities disproportionately affected by heart disease in scientific studies.
  • Conduct research into cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other ailments affecting at-risk populations.

The full text of the Bill can be found on Senator Booker’s website at

Revolutionising healthcare: The untapped potential of yoga

A silent killer lurks in the shadows as we stand on the precipice of a global health crisis. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the unseen enemy, claiming 70% of annual deaths worldwide. In India, the situation is similarly dire, with NCDs accounting for 66% of deaths. Each statistic, each percentage point, represents a life cut short, a family shattered, and a community in mourning. This grim reality is a wake-up call, a clarion call for a radical solution. And as we search for answers, we find that the solution might just be an ancient practice that has been with us all along – Yoga.

Yoga, often viewed through the lens of mysticism and spiritual practice, must be understood and utilized. While yoga’s spiritual aspects should not be discarded, as it is the basis of its efficacy as medicine for today’s ills. Commemorating the upcoming International Yoga Day, we shed light on the scientific, peer-reviewed facts that establish yoga as an effective tool in medicine.

In India, a staggering 77 million adults are grappling with diabetes, and nearly 25 million are on the precipice of the disease, classified as prediabetics. According to the revelations of Apollo’s Annual Health of the Nation reports, corroborating with the WHO, non-communicable diseases have stealthily climbed the ranks to become the leading cause of death and suffering, contributing to about 66% of deaths in India.

In an extensive survey of urban Indian elderly residents, 71% of the participants were battling at least one NCD, while 40% shouldering the burden of more than two NCDs. This paints a grim picture of the health landscape for our elderly population. This demographic should be enjoying the golden years of their lives, not spending them in constant battle with the disease. The scenario for the country’s youth is even more alarming. The Indian Council of Medical Research provides a somber perspective by stating that the probability of mortality between the ages of 30 and 70 from the four primary non-communicable diseases stands at 26%.

Let us look at what the latest clinical research & medical science says about the efficacy of yoga on the diseases highlighted in the statistics mentioned above. Cardiovascular health is literally and figuratively at the heart of the matter. A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has shown that yoga can be a potent ally in our fight against heart disease. It reduces risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the silent saboteurs of our heart health. The Mayo Clinic also acknowledges that yoga as part of lifestyle changes can help manage chronic conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure alone or in conjunction with conventional medical treatment.

 A systematic review in the Journal of Diabetes Research found that yoga may aid glycemic control and improve other metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Harvard Medical School supports the benefits of yoga for managing specific conditions related to NCDs, including heart disease and chronic lower back pain, often associated with obesity, another NCD. These studies underscore the potential of yoga as a therapeutic approach to managing NCDs and enhancing overall health.

For the elderly, who often bear the brunt of NCDs, yoga offers a beacon of hope. With its gentle postures and mindful breathing, this ancient practice can help manage chronic conditions, improve mobility, and enhance overall well-being. It’s not just about adding years to life, but infusing those years with vitality and health, making the golden years truly golden.

Yet, despite these promising findings, yoga still needs to be utilized in our healthcare systems. It’s often dismissed as merely a form of physical exercise or an ‘alternative’ practice. But the evidence supporting yoga’s health benefits is robust and undeniable. The barriers that prevent yoga’s integration into mainstream healthcare are considerable but manageable. It’s time we overcome these obstacles and recognize yoga’s potential in healthcare. This involves integrating yoga into our healthcare systems, educating the public about its benefits, and training healthcare professionals in its application.

Integrating yoga into mainstream healthcare is not just a matter of health but also of social justice. It’s a cost-effective, accessible, and sustainable solution that can benefit individuals and communities alike. It’s a revolution in healthcare that’s been waiting in the wings, ready to take center stage. It empowers individuals to take charge of their health, fostering a sense of self-reliance and promoting a proactive approach to wellness.

As we grapple with the escalating crisis of non-communicable diseases, we must recognize this ancient tool that has the potential to transform our approach to health and wellness. With its holistic focus on mind-body wellness, yoga offers a unique approach to disease prevention and more effective treatment that complements traditional medical treatments. Moreover, we must continue to invest in research to understand yoga’s benefits further and validate its effectiveness in preventing and managing non-communicable diseases. This is not just about embracing an ancient practice but advancing modern healthcare and making it more holistic, patient-centered, and effective.

The transformation of yoga into holistic medicine is inevitable and must cross three barriers. First, yoga must be understood to be a conglomeration of breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and physical postures, not the last alone. Thus, restricting oneself to the last component will ultimately provide, as expected, a tiny portion of the benefit. The second spiritual component and philosophy of yoga are essential to harness the stipulated benefits, particularly as that helps transform our brain and effectively helps us adhere to a discipline. Spirituality is not being religious; thus, any perceived misinterpretation of it as a religious practice is entirely unfounded. Third public education of yoga, both as a philosophy and a therapeutic technique, must be the potential dialogue rather than blind belief, superstition, and genuflexion to rituals and unproved godfathers! 

Standing on the shoulders of giants like Gautama Buddha, Adi Sankara, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and Maharshi Aurobindo, we do not need more godfathers but dedicated practice. My Venerable Guru Hariharananda Giri, a saint in the powerful Kriya Yoga lineage of Mahavatar Babaji, often said, “An ounce of practice is equivalent to a ton of theory.”

It is time to get the mat and practice meditation in a lotus or equivalent posture. Yogic breathing and asanas (physical postures) regularly provide cardiovascular health and do away with stress – the harbinger of disease and death!