55% of UAE residents ‘directly affected’ by heart disease, survey finds
Fifty-three per cent of those surveyed said they have not had their heart health checked for two years
More than half of UAE residents have been affected by heart disease during their lifetime, a new study has revealed.
Commissioned by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to mark World Heart Day on September 29, the survey of more than 1,000 UAE residents found that 55 per cent of respondents had been directly affect by heart disease.
Another 12 per cent had been diagnosed with cardiac problems, while 53 per cent said a close friend or family member (or both) has been diagnosed with heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the UAE, with people often getting affected a decade earlier than those in other developed nations.
Dr Ronney Shantouf, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said: "These results make clear the tragic impact that heart disease has on our community. Each and every heart disease diagnosis ripples out from the patient to their family and friends, naturally causing a great deal of anguish for all concerned."
But Dr Shantouf said that it doesn't have to be that way.
"Most heart disease cases could be prevented and that is really the driving force behind our campaign for healthier hearts, together," he said.
Positive findings in the survey were a strong awareness of the risk factors for heart disease, with 78 per cent of respondents saying they understood the risk factors and 77 per cent reporting they knew heart disease was preventable.
In addition, more than half of those surveyed were aware that physicians recommend more than 150 minutes of exercise a week to help prevent heart disease.
Despite this high level of awareness, 53 per cent of UAE residents reported they have not had their heart health checked for more than two years, with almost one third (30 per cent) saying they had never done so.
Even among residents over the age of 45, the highest risk group surveyed, 49 per cent had not had a heart health check-up for more than two years, with 22 per cent still never having had one.
Women were much less likely to have seen a doctor about their heart health, with 35 per cent never having done so and 26 per cent not having a check-up for more than two years.
“It is very concerning that despite the tremendous strain heart disease places on our community and the high level of awareness we see, people are still reluctant to visit the doctor and take steps to prevent heart disease," Dr Shantouf said.
He added that it is vital to visit a doctor, particularly if someone is at higher risk of developing heart disease.
"A proper cardiac evaluation along with some simple, heart healthy lifestyle changes could not only prevent a great deal of pain and anguish for yourselves, but also your friends and family," he said.
While the majority of respondents have not had a heart health check-up in recent years, just 15 per cent reported they did not have any risk factors for heart disease.
The most common risk factors reported by those surveyed were high blood pressure (46 per cent), stress (45 per cent), cholesterol (44 per cent) and lack of exercise (44 per cent).
In addition, obesity and diabetes, conditions closely linked to severe heart disease, were reported to affect 35 per cent and 30 per cent of those surveyed, respectively.
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