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Can Sound Public Health Policies Stem the Tide of Burgeoning Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease in South Asians?

Shams P, Hussain M, Karani S, Mahmood S, Hasan A, Siddiqi S, Virani SS, Samad Z. Can Sound Public Health Policies Stem the Tide of Burgeoning Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease in South Asians? Current Cardiology Reports. 2021 Oct 23; 23(12):181.

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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To revisit the importance of prevention strategies and policies in reducing the burden of ischemic heart disease in South Asian countries. RECENT FINDINGS: South Asia has seen rapid growth in its population with variable improvement in health indicators such as life expectancy at birth over the last three decades. Parallel to these improvements, there has been a stark rise in noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) but without a commensurate improvement in infrastructure/policies and health system interventions to address NCDs. South Asia is the epicenter of the cardiovascular disease (CVD) epidemic in Asia. It has a population that manifests accelerated atherosclerosis at a younger age. Poverty, lower health literacy, lack of health-promoting behaviors, poor urban design, rising air pollution, weak health systems, and lack and poor implementation of existing policies contribute to the continued rise in the incidence of CVD and the associated case fatality rates. A relatively young population presents an opportunity for implementation of prevention measures now which if not adequately utilized will result in an exponential rise in the CVD burden. There is a large gap between policymaking and implementation in this part of the world. Economic realities further constrain coverage of prevention policies; and therefore, stronger collaboration between governments, stakeholders, civil society, and regional and international funding agencies is needed to universally implement prevention strategies in South Asia.

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