Indians ahead of heart disease with high death rates

Asian Network Inc study analyzes data and challenges

(Coverage of The Asian Network Inc research)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, October 11, 2021

Members of the Indian community, including New Zealand-born Indians, are susceptible to cardiovascular disease leading to high death rates while Asians in general are severely affected by diabetes and cancer, latest work shows research published by The Asian Network Inc (TANI), an organization dedicated to improving the plight of Asian communities.

The study, titled “Asian Public Health in Aotearoa New Zealand”, was released today (11 October 2021) by Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan at a virtual conference in attended by over 125 people from across New Zealand.

Improve service delivery

Ms. Radhakrishnan said her government is committed to improving service delivery in the public health sector and is aware of the special needs of Asians.

“I have the pleasure of being associated with TANI for many years and I am extremely proud of its work. The well-being of Asian communities is a priority for the government, and we look forward to a closer engagement to promote their well-being. We will study the results of the research and take appropriate action, ”she said.

While service delivery itself is a problem, there are many other challenges that Asian people face in New Zealand.

Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan (Photo INL)

Racism, challenges of discrimination

TANI director Vishal Rishi said these include racism, discrimination, language barriers, cultural differences and the lack of appropriate services.

He called for a national plan or strategy as an important step in achieving the national goal of improving health in Asia.

“Such a plan will offer a cohesive approach to health in Asia for the whole country and could provide a good framework for more targeted services, an increased culturally appropriate workforce, increased engagement and accessibility and improvement. of research and data collection in public health including Asia, “he said.

Mr Rishi said the government should also tackle mental health issues as a priority.

Vishal Rishi, Director, The Asian Network Inc

Cardiovascular risks in Indians

Sally Wong, who participated in the research, said members of the Indian community in New Zealand, especially men, had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than Europeans.

“In comparison, Chinese and other Asians (non-Chinese and non-Indian Asians) were at lower risk than Europeans,” she said.

Ms Wong said New Zealand had not analyzed other subgroups. With the Asian population increasing rapidly since 2013, it is important that a more in-depth analysis be conducted to ensure that any issues are identified, she said.

In addition to citing the rates of cardiovascular disease as being higher in Indian men than in women compared to other ethnic groups, research has found that they also had the highest presence of prior coronary artery disease.

Citing observations from Corina Gray, Rod Jackson, Susan Wells, Billy Wu, Katrina Poppe, Matire Harwood, Gerhard Sundborn and Andrew J Kerr in an article in the New Zealand Medical Journal, the TANI research study said Indians New Zealanders had a higher ischemic heart disease death rate than other Asians (i.e., non-Indian Asians) and Europeans.

“Additionally, Indians had the highest hospitalization rates for ischemic heart disease of any group (Maori, Pacific, Europeans, other Asians),” he said.

The study found that South Asians in New Zealand are more likely to need treatment for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Sally Wong, researcher

High diabetes in Asians

The TANI research cited the New Zealand Health Survey 2018-2019 which accounted for type II diabetes in Asians at 9.3%, higher than Maori (8.4%) and Europeans and others (4.9%).

“Analysis of data from 2012-2013 showed that people who identified as South Asians (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bengali, Nepalese, Afghani) had significantly higher rates of diabetes than Chinese and non-Chinese people. Asian (non South Asian non Chinese identifying as Asian). Indians in particular have a high prevalence of diabetes compared to New Zealand Europeans. This was echoed in the analysis of statistics from the Auckland District Health Board and Waitemata, where the Indian population had higher diabetes death rates than other Asian ethnic groups, ”he said. .

Lung cancer takes more lives

According to TANI, the most diagnosed cancers among Asians in New Zealand are lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer and thyroid cancer.

“The incidence of cancer is lower than for other ethnic groups, with the exception of thyroid cancer, where the rates are higher. However, their participation in screening is also low. Asians have a low cancer death rate when viewed as a whole. However, cancer death rates were lowest for the Indian population compared to other Asian subgroups. It is believed that the lower smoking rates of Indians may be contributing to this. In addition, Chinese cancer death rates were found to increase with length of stay in New Zealand, ”he said.

The most common cause of cancer death among Asians in New Zealand is lung cancer, followed by breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

(Image from Asian Network Inc study)

Alcohol and tobacco consumption habits

Asian adults born in New Zealand or having lived in the country for more than 10 years were more likely to drink alcohol than those living here for less than 10 years. A similar trend is seen among young Asians, with people born or living in New Zealand for more than five years being more likely to drink alcohol than new migrants. There is evidence that alcohol consumption is used to help cope with the stress of migration and acculturation.

“Asians have the lowest smoking rate (6.8%) when observed as a whole. Asian men have a significantly higher smoking rate (11.0%) than Asian women (2.8%). This happens for all Asian ethnicities. The men most likely to report smoking regularly were men who identified as Korean (14.6%), Vietnamese (14.4%), Thai (13.4%) or Chinese (12.6%) ”, a declared TANI.

The research also analyzed gambling and mental health as issues affecting the health of Asians.

Mr Rishi said Asians are the fastest growing ethnic group in New Zealand. Asians have a great diversity of ethnicities, origins and cultures and therefore have varying health needs. The Asian population is expected to reach 26% of the total by 2043. It is therefore important that their health concerns are not overlooked, ”he said.


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