There is very little research on cardiovascular diseases and its risks on Asian Americans, even though there are 24 million of them, making up 6-7% of the population. A new study uses data from 13 million Asian adults who took part in the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 – 2018 to find out which Asian groups had greater health risks.
The study divides the data into four groups, with three being each of the largest Asian groups that comprise the national population, Chinese, Filipino and Indian. The fourth group was designated to people of other Asian descent.
Researchers discovered that Filipinos, Indians and other Asian adults were more likely than Chinese adults to suffer from higher blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and obesity.
Filipino adults were found to be significantly more likely than Chinese adults to have a history of heart attacks, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
Earlier this month, the results were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions conference in Philadelphia. According to Heart.org, the results are considered preliminary until their publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Since the study relied on self-reported data, there was little room for specificity of Asian subgroups. Sudheesha Perera, a medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island said “other Asian communities like Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese communities deserve a thorough, holistic analysis of cardiovascular disease.”
According to Heart.org, Perera said there were no socioeconomic determinants of health like education, health insurance and income that could explain the differences between the four groups.
The clear disparities between Asian groups in this study, particularly Filipino adults who were also found to have higher rates of smoking, should urge more research into each diverse subgroup of the Asian population, said Perea. He particularly called for researching into how immigration coincides with the heart health of Asian individuals and communities.
Dr. Latha Palaniappan, an internal medicine doctor and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University in California, also urged specific research about which Asian groups are at greater risk for various types of strokes alongside research about cancer, mental health, asthma, etc.
Palaniappan, who was not apart of the study, attributes the lack of attention to such specific disparities between Asian subgroups because of how they are aggregated in research studies. Palaniappan encourages the participation of more Asian Americans in clinical trials to ensure appropriate testing between all subgroups.