Epidemiology, risk factors, and opportunities for prevention of cardiovascular disease in individuals of South Asian ethnicity living in Europe

Atherosclerosis. 2019 Jul;286:105-113. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2019.05.014. Epub 2019 May 16.


South Asian (SA) individuals represent a large, growing population in a number of European countries. These individuals, particularly first-generation SA immigrants, are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, atherogenic dyslipidaemia, and coronary heart disease than most other racial/ethnic groups living in Europe. SAs also have an increased risk of stroke compared to European-born individuals. Despite a large body of conclusive evidence, SA-specific cardiovascular health promotion and preventive interventions are currently scarce in most European countries, as well as at the European Union level. In this narrative review, we aim to increase awareness among clinicians and healthcare authorities of the public health importance of cardiovascular disease among SAs living in Europe, as well as the need for tailored interventions targeting this group - particularly, in countries where SA immigration is a recent phenomenon. To this purpose, we review key studies on the epidemiology and risk factors of cardiovascular disease in SAs living in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and other European countries. Building on these, we discuss potential opportunities for multi-level, targeted, tailored cardiovascular prevention strategies. Because lifestyle interventions often face important cultural barriers in SAs, particularly for first-generation immigrants; we also discuss features that may help maximise the effectiveness of those interventions. Finally, we evaluate knowledge gaps, currently available risk stratification tools such as QRISK-3, and future directions in this important field.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Coronary heart disease; Diabetes; Physical activity; Prevention; South Asian.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors