A health trust and university are leading an initiative to raise awareness of the growing number of cases of heart disease and diabetes in the UK's Asian population.

Today a public call to action will be launched at the House of Commons to address potential inequalities in prevention, identification and treatment of patients at a higher risk.

South Warwickshire Primary Care Trust, Warwick University, the Department of Health, the National Diabetes Support Team and Diabetes UK are calling for better education and action in at-risk groups.

British Heart Foundation research suggests Asian men and women face a 50 per cent higher risk of heart disease, and 20 per cent are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes - compared to three per cent of the population.

They are more likely to have abdominal obesity, shown in a large waist, a leading factor for both conditions.

Weight management and reducing abdominal obesity could significantly reduce risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in all higher risk groups.

Professor Sudhesh Kumar, Professor of Medicine, Diabetes and Metabolism at Warwick University said: "Recent studies suggest using a tape measure could be a more accurate way of measuring cardiovascular and metabolic risk than relying on body

mass index. So if you're an Asian woman and have a waist of more than 80cm, or a man with a waist of more than 90cm, you are at greater risk of heart dis-ease and diabetes and should seek advice from a healthcare professional.

"Health care professionals should be aware of the lower risk thresholds for their South Asian patients."

Stephen Munday, the PCT's director of public health said: "We are proud to be leading the way in tackling health inequalities in our community.

"We are encouraging Asian communities across the UK to take on board our healthy diet and lifestyle advice to reduce their risk of heart disease and diabetes."