Red Sari evening: Partnerships announced to reduce heart disease risk in South Asians


Park Ridge: Creative partnerships will help us be successful in reducing heart disease among South Asians.  That was the message at A Red Sari Evening on Saturday, March 7th at Macy’s on State Street.

In its second year, A Red Sari Evening sold-out drawing a record crowd of nearly 250 leaders in media, government, health care, and business to  raise awareness of the prevalence of heart disease in the South Asian community. It was hosted by the Advocate Heart Institute’s South Asian Cardiovascular Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in collaboration with the American Heart Association with additional support by the Chicago Sister Cities International – Delhi Council.   This year’s Emcee was Ravi Baichwal, ABC 7.

Among the dignitaries attending were Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India, Illinois State Representative Marty Moylan,  Nimish Jani, Schaumburg Township Trustee, Ashley Kalus, Coalitions Coordinator, Office of Governor Bruce Rauner, Jay Bhatt, DO, MPH, MPA, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer and Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health and Brian Shields, Executive Director, American Heart Association.

South Asians are one of Illinois fastest growing ethnic groups with 242,000 residents. According to national statistics, those of South Asian descent are four times more likely to suffer from heart disease than the general population.  Heart disease affects South Asian women and men at a disproportionate, often fatal level, when compared to others.  Nearly one third of cardiac deaths occur under the age of 65 and while South Asians only account for 17% of the global population, they bear 60% of the world’s heart disease burden.  In particular, South Asian women have at least a 30% increased risk of heart disease related death when compared to Caucasian women.  South Asians are individuals who derive their ethnic origins from the Indian Subcontinent made up of countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Announced during Saturday evening’s festivities was a new initiative called SAHEB or South Asian Healthy Eating Benefits. In January, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Advocate Heart Institute’s South Asian Cardiovascular Center (SACC) launched a pilot program aimed at encouraging better eating habits and lifestyle changes among South Asians. Restaurant owners and chefs at four of Chicago’s South Asian restaurants have committed to reducing sodium and saturated fat content in popular menu items over the course of a year.  Those restaurants include Curry Bowl, Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine, Mysore Woodlands and Viceroy of India. Most recently, Patel Brothers, the largest South Asian food retailer in the country, based in Illinois, has agreed to join SAHEB and provide healthier packaged food items and incorporate consumer education in their stores.

“We are thrilled with the number of partners stepping forward to help us accomplish our mission of reducing the risk of heart disease among South Asians, “ says Shoeb Sitafalwalla, MD, Medical Director of the South Asian Cardiovascular Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. “We now have the momentum we need to get something done.  I believe what we are doing in Chicago will be a model for what can be accomplished nationwide to prevent heart disease in the South Asian community and other at-risk ethnic groups.”  The South Asian Cardiovascular Center at the Advocate Heart Institute is the first of its kind in the Midwest to uniquely serve the needs of the South Asian community.

“The Center is about promoting education and meaningful changes that can be made by South Asians to reduce their risk of heart disease,“ says Rick Floyd, President of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.  “Besides providing exceptional culturally-sensitive care for our patients, we want to be in the forefront of research and prevention on this very important issue.”

Also honored at A Red Sari Evening was Krishna Vyas, the 2015 Young Hearts Award winner.  Krishna, age 8, of Des Plaines received the recognition after she acted quickly to call for help and saved her grandfather’s life when he was having a heart attack several months ago.

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital is the premier academic referral hospital for northwest Chicago and north Chicagoland. The 638-bed research hospital offers the most advanced care in its Level I trauma center (the highest level), Cardiovascular, Orthopedic, Advanced Surgery, Oncology and Neuroscience institutes. Lutheran General Hospital has been rated 16 times a 100 Top Hospital® by Truven Health Analytics and was the first hospital in the area to be awarded the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s prestigious Magnet designation. In addition, it is one of only 30 hospitals in the nation to achieve exemplary outcomes for surgical patient care by the American College of Surgeon’s National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. Located on the campus of Lutheran General Hospital is Advocate Children’s Hospital – Park Ridge, one of the 14 largest children’s hospitals in the country. Lutheran General Hospital is part of Advocate Health Care, based in Downers Grove, Illinois, which is the largest health care provider in the state and one of the nation’s top health care systems.


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