Mixing health and geography: A study of risks associated with cardiovascular disease for the Punjabi Sikh population in the Regional Municipality of Peel
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The emerging epidemic of cardiovascular disease is threatening the health and well-being of various communities around the world. The risk of cardiovascular disease is amplified for the Punjabi Sikh population of Canada originating from Punjab, India. According to Statistics Canada’s National Household Survey, the Punjabi Sikh community represents approximately 115 000 or 9.3 percent of the total population within the Region of Peel, making it the second largest Punjabi Sikh community in Canada. Therefore, there is an urgent need to understand factors that contribute to the decline in cardiovascular health of this growing sub-population. The research focuses on Punjabi Sikhs who are 55 years of age or older, immigrated to Canada, live in the Region of Peel and have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. This age group was selected given that cardiovascular disease diagnosis occurs earlier for Sikhs compared to their ethnic European comparator groups. The Punjabi Sikh population also encompasses an important aging ethnic population in Canada. Health geography plays a vital role in connecting how factors associated with where Punjabi Sikhs live are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Through a population health approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted using grounded theory with participants (n = 30) in the study. Analysis of the interviews suggests that factors such as genetics, lifestyle, the built environment and influences of differing cultures all create the “perfect storm” for cardiovascular disease within the study population. Understanding cardiovascular disease risk through research provides insight into how to address health needs of an increasingly multi-ethnic population in Canada.