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Cardiovascular Disease in South Asian Migrants

Fernando, E.; Razak, F.; Lear, S.A.; Anand, S.S.

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) represents a significant cause of global mortality and morbidity. South Asians (SAs) have a particularly high burden of coronary artery disease (CAD). This review describes current literature regarding the prevalence, incidence, etiology, and prognosis of CVD in SA migrants to high-income nations. We conducted a narrative review of CVD in the SA diaspora through a search of MEDLINE and PubMed. We included observational studies, randomized clinical trials, nonsystematic reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses written in English. Of 15,231 articles identified, 827 articles were screened and 124 formed the basis for review. SA migrants have a 1.5-2 times greater prevalence of CAD than age- and sex-adjusted Europids. Increased abdominal obesity and body fat and increased burden of type 2 diabetes mellitus and dyslipidemia appear to be primary drivers of the excess CAD burden in SAs. Sedentary lifestyle and changes in diet after immigration are important contributors to weight gain and adiposity. Early life factors, physical activity patterns and, in some cases, reduced adherence to medical therapy may contribute to increased CVD risks in SAs. Novel biomarkers like leptin and adipokines may show distinct patterns in SAs and provide insights into cardiometabolic risk determinants. In conclusion, SAs have distinct CVD risk predispositions, with a complex relationship to cultural, innate, and acquired factors. Although CVD risk factor management and treatment among SAs is improving, opportunities exist for further advances. © 2015 Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

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