Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease in South Asians in the United States: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Treatments: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Circulation. 2018 Jul 3;138(1):e1-e34. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000580. Epub 2018 May 24.


South Asians (from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) make up one quarter of the world's population and are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the United States. Although native South Asians share genetic and cultural risk factors with South Asians abroad, South Asians in the United States can differ in socioeconomic status, education, healthcare behaviors, attitudes, and health insurance, which can affect their risk and the treatment and outcomes of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). South Asians have higher proportional mortality rates from ASCVD compared with other Asian groups and non-Hispanic whites, in contrast to the finding that Asian Americans (Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese) aggregated as a group are at lower risk of ASCVD, largely because of the lower risk observed in East Asian populations. Literature relevant to South Asian populations regarding demographics and risk factors, health behaviors, and interventions, including physical activity, diet, medications, and community strategies, is summarized. The evidence to date is that the biology of ASCVD is complex but is no different in South Asians than in any other racial/ethnic group. A majority of the risk in South Asians can be explained by the increased prevalence of known risk factors, especially those related to insulin resistance, and no unique risk factors in this population have been found. This scientific statement focuses on how ASCVD risk factors affect the South Asian population in order to make recommendations for clinical strategies to reduce disease and for directions for future research to reduce ASCVD in this population.

Keywords: AHA Scientific Statements; Asian continental ancestry group; cardiovascular diseases; genetics; prevalence; risk factors; sociological factors.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • American Heart Association*
  • Asia, Western / ethnology
  • Asians*
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnosis
  • Atherosclerosis / ethnology*
  • Atherosclerosis / mortality
  • Atherosclerosis / therapy*
  • Comorbidity
  • Culturally Competent Care / standards*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Indian Ocean Islands / ethnology
  • Life Style / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology