The risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in the region can be addressed by adopting comprehensive primary prevention programs, as per senior cardiologists at the Canadian Specialist Hospital in Dubai. CVDs have been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the world’s leading cause of death and disability, claiming approximately 17.5 million lives annually and accounting for 30-35% of global disease burden. Statistics revealed that heart disease strikes UAE residents 20 years earlier than the global average, with 45 years being the average age of patients in the country.
Early detection and intervention, through regular checkups and treatment options, play a huge role in management and treatment of CVDs. However, primary prevention is highly effective at targeting the issue almost at a ‘ground zero’ level, by adopting a risk reduction approach,” stated Dr. Haider Al Zubaidy, CEO of Canadian Specialist Hospital, Dubai.
There are several factors that are predictive of a future cardiovascular event, particularly myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) and strokes. The prominent behavioural risk factors are tobacco usage, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, poor dietary habits and consumption of food high in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates. Together, they form a menacing package that strengthens the risk of CVD. Some other factors are family history, genetics, gender and age,” added Dr. Haider.
Diabetes can accelerate the risk of heart disease, with 20% of UAE residents affected by the disease. A high percentage of the UAE population also suffers from hypertension, obesity, and dyslipidemia. Statistics revealed that UAE children are 1.8 times more obese than US children, while more than 60% of UAE residents are overweight. Studies have indicated that obesity is an accomplice in fueling the development of silent heart damage. Those with BMIs over 35, classified as severely obese, faced twice the risk of potential heart disease as compared to those within normal limits.
“From a public health standpoint, these factors are worrisome while taking into account majority of the UAE population’s lifestyle and dietary habits. While the region’s hospitals offer sophisticated tertiary care options, what is sorely lacking are primary prevention strategies. Primary prevention can tackle the onset of CVD in individuals with established risk factors, even if they do not present clinical symptoms. The doctor will evaluate the total risk to understand its management through an individual approach. Strategies can include intensive lifestyle changes, reducing alcohol and tobacco usage, healthy weight management and in some cases, appropriate drug therapy to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar,” said Dr.Haider.
Cardiovascular primary prevention is also ultimately cost effective, as the issue is tackled head on before complications set in, through long term adherence to the doctor’s recommendations and drug interventions.
“Healthy life habits continue to be the cornerstone of primary prevention and, as healthcare professionals, we strive to reinforce the importance of behavioural change when it comes to preventing heart disease, “concluded Dr.Haider.
CSH regularly hosts several CVD awareness programs, inviting the public to undergo free screening for blood pressure and blood glucose, two key indicators of CVD conditions. During World Heart Day on 29th September, CSH conducted the ‘Listen to your Heart’ campaign, with the aim to promote early detection and awareness as tools against progress of heart disease.
The hospital, being at the forefront of medical tourism since 2006, has been reaccredited by Joint Commission International (JCI), the world’s largest healthcare accreditor, in recognition of the hospital’s continuing commitment to patient safety, quality and ethical practices.