Asian American Medical Hazard: South Asian Heart Disease

Silicon Valley resident Mahendra Agrawal exercised regularly, maintained a health weight, and followed a vegetarian diet.  When he went to the hospital with shortness of breath, doctors found that the 63 year old had obstructed coronary arteries.  His reaction:

“I’m a pretty active guy and I eat very healthy, my wife makes sure of that.  It makes me wonder why this happened to me.”

Agrawal’s predicament is detailed in this New York Times article (also here if you ran out of free articles) that talks about another Asian American Medical Hazard – South Asian Heart Disease.  It also describes one potential benefit of being Asian American – how adopting a blend of Asian and American practices can lead to better health than either alone.

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Asian American Medical Hazard: Working in Silicon Valley

employeesampleWhile mobile health units are used in impoverished places like the slums of Mumbai to deliver health care to Asians there, they are also used to deliver health care to Asians in not so impoverished places – the companies of Silicon Valley. This article from Fortune points out that working in Silicon Valley can be bad for workers’ health as being poor can be in other places. Author Jeffrey O’Brien also stresses that while the Silicon Valley work lifestyle can be bad for everyone, it seems to be worse for Asian Americans, particularly if those Asian Americans are of South Asian descent. Exaggeration? Not to me, as many of the problems described have affected me as a Silicon Valley worker.

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Asian Waistlines and Heart Disease

potbellyWhile waist size is an indicator for potential hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease, the standards for Asians is stricter stricter than for non-Asians.    This is similar to the situation with Asians and Body Mass Index (BMI), where standards for a healthy BMI are stricter for Asians.  The Mayo clinic lists the following as problematic waist sizes:

Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters, or cm).
Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 cm).
Asian men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 36 inches (91 cm).
Asian women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 32 inches (81 cm).

Limited data seems to indicate that these numbers are low for Pacific Islanders and African AmericansWaist measurements are said to be better indicators than weight or (BMI) for potential heart disease and death for people of normal weight.

(Flickr Photo Credit: TinkerTailor)