BC Industry News
Scientists in Canada and India collaborate on heart disease
June 22, 2010
Two Canadian organizations will work together to study why heart disease is so prevalent among people of South Asian descent and seek ways to curb the fourth leading cause of death in the world.
During a four-day health conference in Vancouver, the federally funded Centre of Excellence for Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) and the Canada India Network Society (CINS) agreed Monday to collaborate in clinical trials, technology development and solutions to better monitor patients in India and Canada.
Conditions such as heart attack, coronary heart disease, diabetes and kidney failure are five times more prevalent in South Asian populations than those of European descent, said Dr. Bruce McManus, director of PROOF.
"This is an alarming health issue that we must fix," he said, noting that there are 1.26 million people of South Asian descent living in Canada, which is about four per cent of the country's population.
About 10 per cent of the population in B.C. is of South Asian descent.
McManus said South Asians have an unexplained susceptibility to the disease which tends to hit them earlier in life and with more severity. In India, an estimated 50 million people -- more than the population of Canada -- suffer from diabetes and that number is expected to climb to 80 million in 20 years, according to the World Health Organization. Diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 41,500 Canadians each year, reports the Canadian Diabetes Association, which estimates the disease will cost the Canadian health care system $16.9 billion a year by 2020.
The PROOF centre will use what its scientists call biomarkers -- or sets of genes and proteins -- to develop new blood tests that can screen for those at risk of cardiovascular disease. "It may determine those who will progress with a certain level of risk with their disease, the hardening of the arteries and others who are not, others who might progress with kidney failure and others who will not," McManus said.
By Tiffany Crawford
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