Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States. Every 43 seconds, someone has a heart attack.

Cardiovascular disease affects every age, race and gender, but a member of the South Asian community is 4 times more likely to develop heart disease than the average person.

It’s partially a lifestyle problem; the sodium content in most Indian food is higher than average foods. But it’s also hereditary. Heart disease can randomly affect any age or gender of South Asians, even if they appear to be healthy.

It’s scary, but it’s happening. Nearly 25 percent of heart attacks among South Asian men occur under the age of 40. 50 percent of heart attacks occur under the age of 50. And it’s not just men. South Asian women are also globally affected at ridiculously young ages. It’s a worldwide epidemic, and not that many of us are even aware that it’s happening.

What is being done to stop this?

Dr. Shoeb J. Sitafalwalla, M.D. started the South Asian Cardiovascular Center at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. A highly regarded cardiologist at LGH, Dr. Sitafalwalla recognized the widespread devastation occurring in his community. Young patients, family and community members became repeatedly affected by heart disease and Dr. Sitafalwalla needed to do something about it. The South Asian Cardiovascular Center’s goal “is to educate, screen, prevent, and treat South Asians for their high risk of cardiac disease,” and they have been doing just that throughout the Midwest.

Four Indian restaurants in Chicago heard about all of the good being done at the SACC and decided to get together and change their menus to be more heart healthy. Curry Bowl, Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine, Mysore Woodlands and Viceroy of India are all on the path to lower sodium levels in their food not because they were told to by the city, but because Dr. Sitafalwalla’s cause spoke to them.

The SACC’s mission is to empower the community. From working with restaurants to partnering with faith based centers to social media presence to hospital activities, Dr. Sitafalwalla and his team aim to reach as many people as possible.

Check out everything the SACC has to offer the Chicagoland area and more importantly, the world.