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Ethn Dis. 2006 Autumn;16(4):886-93.

Prevalence and correlates of cardiovascular risk factors in South Asians: population-based data from two California surveys.

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  • 1School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley 94720-7360, USA.



Few population-based studies report cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor prevalence for South Asians in the United States. We examined CVD risk for South Asians in California.


We used data from two population-based surveys with South Asian participants in California, the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and the Cardiovascular Health among Asian Indian (CHAI) survey. The CHIS 2001 was conducted in English; 769 South Asians aged 25-83 years participated as one of many ethnic groups. The CHAI survey was population-based but focused on ethnicity-specific characteristics in 304 South Asians aged 25-80 years in English and Punjabi in 2001-2002.


A CVD risk score included smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, myocardial infarction, and angina. Separate logistic regression models examined the association of sociodemographics, lifestyle, medical risk, acculturation, and "any CVD risk."


In CHAI, hypertension (20%), hypercholesterolemia (24%), and diabetes (10%) were high; smoking was low (12%). In CHIS, prevalence of these conditions was lower, except smoking (21%). Approximately 35% of participants in each survey had any CVD risk. Male sex, age, higher body mass index, education less than a bachelor's degree, and alcohol use were associated with CVD risk in both studies. The CHAI subjects interviewed in English had higher odds of any CVD risk than those interviewed in Punjabi (odds ratio 10.3, 95% confidence interval 2.9-36.7).


Data from multiple sources add crucial information about heterogeneity of risk within ethnic populations. South Asians in the CHIS had higher rates of smoking, but lower CVD risk scores than participants in the CHAI study. In CHAI, English language use was associated with increased CVD risk score. Additional research should examine if acculturation increases CVD risk.

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