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Higher risk to heart disease if you are of south Asian descent: Calgary organization

Calgarians checking blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels at the DIL Walk. .
Calgarians checking blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels at the DIL Walk. . Global News

CALGARY – If you or your family are from south Asia, you are at a greater risk of heart disease than the rest of the population.

That’s the message a Calgary organization (DIL Walk) is hoping to get out to prevent more deaths from heart attack and stroke.

Hundreds of Calgarians came to Lester B. Pearson High School Saturday to learn about heart disease.

According to organizers from the DIL Walk, people of south Asian descent, regardless if you were born in Canada or not, are at a higher risk. And if your background includes countries around India and Pakistan, you’re in a high-risk group.

“They have no clue. That’s part of the reason we started this campaign, because there’s just a real lack of awareness,” Raman Kapoor a DIL Walk organizer said.

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The DIL Walk is a health fair and fitness event. DIL Walk is an acronym for Do It for Life.

Doctors, nurses and dietitians donate their time to the event, checking blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Navdeep Chahil got his blood pressure tested at the event and was surprised how high it was.

“I am going to the gym in the week, like two to three days, but why is my blood pressure high?” Chahil asked after he was diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Participants at the event were told about how they can prevent heart disease. The aim is to reduce the burden on the health care system through early intervention.

“So they have arrived in Canada but they are not getting any benefits from the health care services in Canada. So we are dealing with the developing world situation in a developed country,”  Dr. Anmol Kapoor, a cardiologist volunteering at the event said.

Raman Kapoor was born with a hole in her heart. She had open heart surgery at 24 years old.

“It was really important for me throughout my life to know I have to eat healthy, be active, doing all those things and even after my surgery it was even more important now that I maintain it and keep my heart in good shape,” Kapoor said. ”

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The DIL walk organization has just started a research project with the University of Calgary to better understand why south Asians are more inclined to have heart disease and what the community can do to prevent its often fatal outcomes.

“We are really excited about this collaboration because without the research it’s hard to make change,” said Kapoor. So as this research goes forward we’ll know exactly what steps we need to do to make a difference in the community.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal if one person makes a change and take that information into their home and they teach their family. It’s all about building capacity, it’s about bringing the community together from a grassroots level and building capacity,” Kapoor said.

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