One in two deaths in the UAE are caused by cardiovascular diseases and that the first cardio event (strike) occurs at around 45, which is 10 to 15 years earlier than the international average of 55 to 60, according to local medical experts.
The statistics are alarming, and reflects on the general lack of awareness of the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases including diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, smoking and wrong lifestyles. Dr Michael Khouri, Cardiologist, Khalifa Hospital, Abu Dhabi Healthcare Authority (Haad), said: “Nearly 20 per cent of the heart patients were unaware that they had diabetes or hypertension or high cholesterol, thus exposing them to cardiovascular diseases. There was lack of medical research in the UAE because the general movement of people due to temporary nature of jobs, as these studies are carried out over a period of time. Like in Asia and North Africa, smoking is prevalent in the UAE and many people suffer from diabetes and hypertension.”Dr. Azan Binbrek of Cardiology Department, Rashid Hospital in Dubai said: “We should play an active role in the community by promoting health awareness about diseases and their prevention, such as cardiovascular diseases. We primarily ask our patients to lose weight, do regular exercise and stop smoking. UAE still has a long way to go in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases because this is multi-disciplinary where it is the joint responsibility of the government, media and schools to play a role in planting healthy lifestyle for the kids and keep junk food out of their reach and train them to have exercise as part of their daily lives.”
Speaking about the highest factors for cardiovascular diseases, Dr Binbrek said that the UAE is the second in the world in diabetes where around 25 per cent of people in the UAE are diabetic, 25 per cent have high blood pressure and 20-25 per cent have high cholesterol not to mention smoking that is dramatically and worryingly increasing amongst teenagers in the age of 15 to 18, figures that were not so high in the past years.
Dr. Binbrek added: “The UAE has a very high rate of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure due to the huge lifestyle changes, and we must try to prevent these diseases."
Dr. Khouri said that while in the West, diabetes has 12 to 15 per cent penetration, in the Gulf it is more than 30 per cent. He added that that 45 to 50 per cent who have cardiovascular risk factors reach the target of lowering their diabetes or blood pressure or cholesterol to the required average in the UAE, thus preventing cardiovascular diseases.”
Dr. Khouri pointed out that the first cardio-event for UAE patients occurs at the age of 45, which is 10 to 15 years earlier than the international average of 55 to 60 years. In the West, there are better screening facilities and greater awareness of how to prevent heart diseases by combating the risk factors.