Worsening Cardiovascular Health Trends in Asian American Subgroups

by Micaela Harris
August 19, 2022

Although Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial and ethnic population in the United States, expected to increase from 19 million in 2019 to 46 million by 2060, we still know little about how cardiovascular disease affects Asian American populations, and why certain Asian American subgroups experience cardiovascular disease disparities. The population of Asian Americans is diverse, which requires an equally broad effort to understand the factors underlying the disproportionate burden of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease in Asian American populations.

With the goal to improve an understanding and future management of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease in Asian American subgroups, a team of investigators at Stanford and Northwestern Universities led by Nilay Shah, MD and Latha P Palaniappan, MD recently collaborated on a study to characterize recent trends in cerebrovascular and cardiovascular mortality among Asian American subgroups. Their results were recently published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Using data on the cause of mortality from US death certificates between 2003-2017 from the six largest Asian American subgroups (Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese Americans), as well as non-Hispanic White populations, the investigators calculated the age-standardized mortality rates (ASMR) stratified by sex, individual Asian American subgroup, and underlying cause of death. The team found that rates of heart failure deaths increased in most Asian American subgroups. There were statistically significant declines in IHD mortality rates in NHW men, which were not observed in Asian Indian or Vietnamese American men.  They also found that even though cerebrovascular disease decreased in non-Hispanic Whites between 2003 and 2017, it increased in Asian American populations.

Age-standardized mortality rates from cerebrovascular disease in women across different Asian American population subgroups. Please refer to the full article for information on cerebrovascular disease mortality rates in men.

Although the changes in cardiovascular-related deaths in Asian American populations could be attributed to changes in reporting, the data are consistent with other recent reports showing a high and growing burden of cardiovascular risk factors among Asian Americans. The worsening patterns of cardiovascular diseases in Asian American subgroups is worrisome, warranting urgent investigation to understand the reasons for these trends, and action to mitigate these patterns.

Additional Stanford Cardiovascular Institute-affiliated investigators who contributed to this study include Kevin Xi; Malathi Srinivasan, MD; Vedant Sathye; Vaibhav Vishal; and Han Zhang, PhD.

Latha P. Palaniappan, MD

Nilay Shah, MD