Using Personalized, Culturally Appropriate Strategies to Combat Heart Disease in South Asians

Namratha Kandula, MD, MPH

Research shows that individuals of South Asian descent including Asian Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalis, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans are at high risk for heart disease, which is partly due to a lack of exercise and a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and low in fresh fruits and vegetables. There are known ways to prevent heart disease and improve people’s diet and physical activity, but South Asians are not benefiting from the science of heart disease prevention. There is a tremendous need for prevention programs that use culturally appropriate strategies to lower heart disease risk in ‘Desi’ population.

Namratha Kandula, MD, MPH and her team at Northwestern University in Chicago have partnered with Metropolitan Asian Family Services, Skokie Health Department and NorthShore University HealthSystem, to deliver and study if a culturally specific healthy lifestyle coaching program improves diet, physical activity, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight in South Asians. The South Asian Healthy Lifestyle Initiative (SAHELI) will provide nutrition and health education, personalized exercises, stress management strategies, and group support geared to South Asians. Dr. Kandula explained, “Our goal is to develop an effective and sustainable program for combating heart disease in South Asians. This research study can help us develop
personalized prevention for South Asians.”

Recruitment of study participants is expected to begin in Spring 2018. For more information on the study, please call MAFS at 773-465- 3105 Ext. 1032 or Skokie Health Department at 847-933-8252 or Northwestern at 312-503-3309.



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