Translating a heart disease lifestyle intervention into the community: the South Asian Heart Lifestyle Intervention (SAHELI) study; a randomized control trial

BMC Public Health. 2015 Oct 16;15:1064. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-2401-2.


Background: South Asians (Asian Indians and Pakistanis) are the second fastest growing ethnic group in the United States (U.S.) and have an increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). This pilot study evaluated a culturally-salient, community-based healthy lifestyle intervention to reduce ASCVD risk among South Asians.

Methods: Through an academic-community partnership, medically underserved South Asian immigrants at risk for ASCVD were randomized into the South Asian Heart Lifestyle Intervention (SAHELI) study. The intervention group attended 6 interactive group classes focused on increasing physical activity, healthful diet, weight, and stress management. They also received follow-up telephone support calls. The control group received translated print education materials about ASCVD and healthy behaviors. Primary outcomes were feasibility and initial efficacy, measured as change in moderate/vigorous physical activity and dietary saturated fat intake at 3- and 6-months. Secondary clinical and psychosocial outcomes were also measured.

Results: Participants' (n = 63) average age was 50 (SD = 8) years, 63 % were female, 27 % had less than or equal to a high school education, one-third were limited English proficient, and mean BMI was 30 kg/m2 (SD ± 5). There were no significant differences in change in physical activity or saturated fat intake between the intervention and control group. Compared to the control group, the intervention group showed significant weight loss (-1.5 kg, p-value = 0.04) and had a greater sex-adjusted decrease in hemoglobin A1C (-0.43 %, p-value <0.01) at 6 months. Study retention was 100 %.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that a culturally-salient, community-based lifestyle intervention was feasible for engaging medically underserved South Asian immigrants and more effective at addressing ASCVD risk factors than print health education materials.

Trial registration: NCT01647438, Date of Trial Registration: July 19, 2012.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Diet
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Heart Diseases / etiology
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss

Associated data