Heart disease has again topped the list of biggest killers in the UAE in a global study of population health.
Ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of death and the most serious of non-communicable diseases according to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease study compiled by scientists and health experts.
A further survey of social attitudes has revealed almost half of people are worried about dying of heart disease.
More than 1,000 UAE nationals took part in a survey commissioned by the Cleveland Clinic of Abu Dhabi to assess understanding of heart disease.
Of those taking part, 44 per cent feared dying of the condition of whom 49 per cent were women, and 43 per cent men.
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A further 76 per cent of those surveyed said those under 40 should be more concerned about heart disease.
“The results of this survey show that heart disease is a real and present concern across the whole community in the UAE and the region,” said Dr Rakesh Suri, chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at Cleveland Clinic, Abu Dhabi.
“More people are looking for support in managing their heart health.
“It demonstrates the campaign against heart disease needs to be multidimensional – improving health education and also ensuring that everyone has access to the advanced technologies and sophisticated therapies that can treat heart issues as they occur.”
Regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet can significantly reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease over their lifetime.
The survey results suggested a disparity between Emirati nationals and other nationalities in the level of awareness of factors that can improve heart health.
Results showed 71 per cent of Emirati nationals believe they could improve their heart health, compared with 83 per cent of Asian respondents and 92 per cent of western expatriates.
Despite broad awareness of heart disease, there was less understanding of the factors that influence a person’s heart health, particularly among younger people.
Surveyed UAE nationals and residents between the ages of 18 and 29 were significantly less likely to be aware of the role family history can play in a person’s risk of developing heart disease.
More than half of young respondents – 51 per cent – said family history was not a factor in heart health, compared to the 62 per cent of total respondents who said it was.
Experts said people with a family history are significantly more likely to develop some form of heart disease over their lifetimes.
“There are many contributing risk factors for heart disease, including diet and lifestyle choices,” said Dr Mohaymen Abdelghany, a senior physician and CEO at AL Zahra Hospital, Dubai.
“Smoking is a major risk factor, and hopefully a tobacco tax will help contribute to some kind of reduction.
“We still need to have acute and prevention centres and programmes to deal with heart disease, but there are so many intermediate settings that can help with regular check-ups to detect related health problems early and get the right treatment.”
The survey was conducted between August 21-28, 2017 by YouGov, with a pool of respondents from across the UAE and Kuwait.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is marking World Heart Day with a month-long campaign, “Love Your Heart”.
It will include community health activities, online heart health education resources and a range of initiatives designed to raise awareness about the advanced cardiovascular services available at the hospital.
A special ‘Cycle for Health’ event will take place at Zayed Sports City on September 30.