Cardiovascular Disease - The #1 Cause of Death in the World
Cardiovascular disease is more commonly known as heart disease. Nevertheless whatever you call it, there's no denying heart disease is the number one killer in the world . What makes it worse is the fact that South Asians are extremely prone to it. According to an article published in the American Heart Association's Circulation journal :
"In an analysis of age-standardized coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in Canada over a 15-year period, South Asians had the highest CHD mortality compared with individuals of Chinese and European descent. In addition, South Asians are prone to developing CHD at a younger age, often before the age of 40 years in men. Case-control studies have shown that compared with whites, South Asians in Canada present to the hospital later in the course of acute myocardial infarction and are more likely to have an anterior location of infarction. South Asians are younger at the time of cardiac catheterization than whites yet are more likely to have significant left main, multivessel, and distal coronary artery disease. In addition, South Asians are significantly younger at the time of first hospitalization for heart failure."
The Fight to Beat Heart Disease
The simple yet powerful fact that heart disease disproportionally affected South Asians was the ignition that enabled the brothers at our Eta Chapter (UT Austin) to start Beating Heart Disease in the Spring of 2004. In order to beat heart disease, the brothers at Eta Chapter set out to educate their family and friends on the risks of heart disease. The week of events they set up soon became an annual tradition. The message behind Beating Heart Disease resonating strongly with many of our chapters who sought to combine the pillars of Service to Humanity and South Asian Awareness.
And finally, in 2009 the brothers of Beta Chi Theta voted to make Beating Heart Disease their national philanthropy, underscoring the negative impact heart disease has not only in the South Asian and world community as a whole, but also in our own personal lives. Since those early days in 2004, Beating Heart Disease has become our monumental national philanthropy, with every chapter hosting a BHD week every spring and raising tens of thousands of dollars per year.
The Objectives of Beating Heart Disease
- To spread awareness regarding the effects of cardiac disease
- To teach people how to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle in local communities and on university campuses
- To provide opportunities for members of the community to engage in heart-healthy activities
- To raise funds for cardiac research and education programs
Chapters of Beta Chi Theta raise awareness regarding heart disease by hosting panels, interviews with experts, tabelling and numerous other activities. One favorite tactic used by our brothers is our trademark red t-shirt. The back of the t-shirt explains the 4 steps (F-A-S-T) to spot a stroke. A small piece of information that can be of life-saving value in an emergency. In terms of raising funds for research and education: we have partnered with American Heart Association, contributed to research organizations such as the Texas Heart Institute and participated in many other programs affiliated with cardiac health. It is important to contribute to research efforts, especially considering scientists have recently discovered the existence of a heart disease gene :
"But it is only recently that scientists discovered the gene responsible. The research, published in January in the journal Nature Genetics, explains how a genetic mutation affecting four per cent of Indians and one per cent of the world's population, leads to a formation of an abnormal protein. This protein often results in cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes deterioration of the heart muscle."
We hope that with continuous contributions to research, one day we can help reduce the prevalence of heart disease in the South Asian community, as well as the whole world. Until then, we will also keep on educating our communities to lead a healthier life through exercise, diet and other lifestyle changes. Many events during BHD week are targetted towards promotion of a healthier lifestyle. For example, one chapter organized a yoga session every year in order to encourage people to practice yoga regurlarly since it has numerous benefits . These are just some of the examples demonstrating how we promote heart disease awareness and fight to beat heart disease.
Beta Chi Theta National Fraternity, Inc. has trademarked the phrase Beating Heart Disease, and is currently in the process of partnering to become an official National Heart Walk Team for the American Heart Association.