South Asians have been known to get first-time heart attacks 5 to 10 years earlier than North Americans and Europeans, but this had been put down loosely to genes.
Not any more say experts.
An international team of researchers has come out with findings published in Journal of the American Medical Association that leave no excuse for South Asians (people originating from India, Pakistan, Srilanka, Nepal and. Bangladesh) to blame their genes.
Traditional risk factors like lack of exercise, poor diet, diabetes, excessive drinking and smoking are to blame for earlier first-time attacks.
The survey was based on research garnered from various sources.
Researchers at the Government Medical College in Nagpur, India examined data on 1,732 heart-attack patients and 2,204 controls from 15 medical centers in five South Asian countries, and 10,728 heart-attack patients and 12,431 controls from other countries.
The average age of a South Asian getting a heart attack for the first time was 53 years as compared to 58.8 of persons from western countries.
It could be concluded that strong reasons could be lesser portions of fruits and vegetables taken by South Asians as well as lack of leisure time physical activities.
It was also noted that higher levels of depression and work related stress occurred among South Asians.
Another pin pointer was binge drinking or excessive drinking, at one go.
While westerners indulge in regular moderated drinking which is said to have a protective effect on the heart, the incidence of binge drinking was way more among South Asians.
Earlier first time heart attacks are also common among immigrant South Asians, as researchers say they follow the traditional way of cooking or over cooking, which destroys nutrients and are prone to stress caused by difficulties in adapting.V
Says one of the lead researchers, physician Salim Yusuf of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario, Canada: I think South Asian immigrants who have come to North America are at even greater risk of heart disease compared to those living in their home countries and the reason for this is that they are even more urbanized.
This includes poor lifestyle choices seen in the west like junk food, higher availability of processed foods, and reduced mobility due to automation of household chores.
'In the transition to a modern lifestyle, these risk factors have been picked up rapidly by South Asians,' said Prabhakaran Dorairaj, a cardiologist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.
The final word goes to team member K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India,
'It's the price South Asians are paying for eating less fruits and vegetables and exercising less than other countries.'