SHARJAH: Everybody wants to enjoy a long and healthy life, so everyone should try to consciously live that way, taking to heart reminders for doing so.
Interviewed in observance of the World Heart Day on Tuesday, Zulekha Hospital-Sharjah Interventional Cardiologist, Dr Rupesh Singh, said: “Every day should be a healthy day, because this is the only way we could achieve the long-term goal of having a long, enjoyable life.”
Singh, with 10 years specialisation in cardiac procedures like endiography, endioplasty, valvoplasty, pacemaker insertions and peripheral interventions or micro-surgery measures, reiterated what the medical community has been discussing in the past several years about cardiovascular diseases being on the rise.
“Heart disease is the number one cause of mortality all over the world, although in the past five years, these have been on the decline in the Western countries. Underdeveloped and developing nations are now catching up,” he said.
In the past three years of practising in the UAE, Singh has observed that it is men and those from the upper class who smoke, not those who normally do manual labour – unlike the ordinary labourers who have been consulting him due to repetitive chest pains particularly in the “odd hours of late nights or early mornings,” breathlessness and palpitations.
Most of his patients are clueless and “are surprised” when they are informed of their heart condition, after a series of tests that include electrocardiograms, blood tests, and stress checks through the treadmill and echocardiogram.
Quoting global records, he mentioned that the average age for cardiovascular sufferers in the Western and developed states is 65, while those in the poor and developing economies is 45.
According to a press release, free health screenings conducted at the Dubai Investment City labour accommodation in August, by the Rashid Hospital-Cardiology Department and the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Gulf, revealed the following data from 491 people of various nationalities between 25 and 55 years old: 75 per cent or 371 persons presented high levels of low density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol, two per cent or 10 persons are diabetic, and 60 per cent or 295 persons have a body mass index (BMI) or over 24.
The hospital’s cardiologist, Dr Khalifa Oman Mohammed, said: “These are alarming results as the high prevalence of risk factors puts these people at great risk of developing heart conditions such as a heart attack or stroke.”
A Burjeel Hospital-Abu Dhabi press release stated that according to a recent Dubai Health Authority, “one in five deaths is a result of heart disease.”
“Another alarming statistic is that only 19 per cent of Dubai’s population (380,000 out of two million) gets sufficient exercise, which means they are putting themselves at risk of heart disease.”
Singh said those in the West have realised the necessity of being health conscious and are therefore more active and exercising, and they have also stubbed the cigarette.
In contrast, those in poor and developing countries have become more prone to sedentary lifestyles as a consequence of modern technology, and have to be constantly cautioned about their smoking habits.
Singh took note of the diabetes and obesity incidences in the UAE, explaining that the former results in cardiovascular diseases because “hormonal changes occur, cholesterol becomes stickier, and that makes the blood platelets more activated, leading to the formation of more blood clots and more blockages in the system.”
He said obesity makes people more prone to diabetes, and the debilitating effects like having heart ailments are due to less activity and physical exercises.
Describing the heart as a “fist-sized organ that beats 100,000 times a day (60 to 90 beats per minute), 40 million times a year or approximately three billion times in an average person’s life span,” Burjeel Hospital-Abu Dhabi cardiologist Dr Georgie Thomas said another risk factor is family history and ethnicity.
He referred to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, adding: “More than 66 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women are obese or overweight in the UAE. The figures were high for the UAE and other Arabian Gulf countries.
“The UAE results include some data from expatriates – if not, the percentages would be even higher according to the study,” Thomas also said.
He added, “The study attributes this to the notion in the region that being rotund is a sign of prosperity.”
On the prevalence of diabetes not only in the UAE but also in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia, Thomas mentioned a World Health Organisation study.
Saying that the six countries are among the top 10 in the world with exponential levels of diabetes, he also said: “The risk of heart attack is three times more in this region, and the risk of stroke is two to four times more for diabetes sufferers.
“The study also showed that close to 50 per cent of diabetics died from heart diseases,” Thomas said.
He said there are five common cardiovascular diseases: rheumatic, hypertensive, ischemic, cerebrovascular and inflammatory heart disease.
Singh and Thomas said maintaining a healthy heart is achieved through healthy eating, having an active lifestyle and indulging in physical exercises approximately 45 minutes per day, beating the habit of smoking, and properly managing stress.
Singh however agreed that it all boils down to the decision of every person and if they want to live healthier and longer.
“The media plays a big role in spreading awareness, because you can reach thousands of people. We only deal on a one-to-one basis,” he said.
Singh said the observance of the World Heart Day is all about the need for people to be reminded to live in a healthy way.
Take care to check on your heart, especially since today is World Heart Day.
Free screenings regarding body mass index, cholesterol levels as well as diet and nutrition shall be conducted by hospitals in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai.
Those who wish to take the opportunity may call and register at 065658867 to register for the services to be available at both the Zulekha Hospitals in Sharjah and Dubai from 9am to 1pm, and 6pm to 8pm.
If patient test results indicate potential warning signs in relation to heart disease, a follow-up appointment will be arranged with one of the cardiologists in order to immediately reduce the risks of developing cardiac-related problems.
Over in Abu Dhabi, the contact number is 025085555 for the complimentary services at the second floor activity area of Burjeel Hospital from 9am to 2pm.
The Medeor 24x7 Hospital would deploy its healthcare professionals at Yas Mall.