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The heart is the body’s centre and one of its most essential organs. On World Heart Day, experts urge residents to pay more heed to the heart to ensure a long and happy life


Nisthula Nagarajan

Published: Wed 29 Sep 2021, 12:00 AM

No beauty shines brighter than a healthy heart and it’s never too late to make your heart health a priority. It shouldn’t be something that you regret not paying attention to as it is one of the fundamentals to a long and happy life. Taking care of your heart is a two-way street — as you pay attention to its needs, the heart pays attention to your needs too. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are some of the top killers in the world. To bring awareness to this, and to foster a knowledgable community, the World Heart Federation celebrates World Heart Day on September 29 every year.

The day informs people around the globe that CVD, including heart disease and stroke, is the world’s leading cause of death claiming 18.6 million lives each year, and highlights the actions that individuals can take to prevent and control CVD. It aims to drive action to educate people that by controlling risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, at least 80 per cent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided.

World Heart Day is a global campaign during which individuals, families, communities, and governments around the world participate in activities to take charge of their heart health and that of others. Through this campaign, the World Heart Federation unites people from all countries and backgrounds in the fight against the CVD burden and inspires and drives international action to encourage heart-healthy living across the world. We and our members believe in a world where heart health for everyone is a fundamental human right and a crucial element of global health justice.

To understand the severity of CVDs and the necessity of its prevention for both men and women, let’s take a look at what it is, symptoms, causes and how to prevent them.

CVDs are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, which includes coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, congenital heart disease among others. Often, there are no symptoms of the underlying disease of the blood vessels. A heart attack or stroke may be the first sign of underlying disease. Because heart disease is more common as you age, it's important to have regular checkups and know your heart disease risk factors. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease, and nearly half of us have at least one of these four. Poor nutrition and exercise habits can increase your risk for heart disease. This can lead to fatty deposits called plaque to collect your artery walls and slow the blood flow from the heart.

While heart disease is most prevalent in people age 60 and older, it can begin to develop much earlier in life. Medcare Hospital Sharjah understands how suddenly heart issues can appear and offers 24/7 cardiac care for this reason to manage all kinds of cardiac emergencies. Heart attack symptoms for men and women differ slightly. For men, squeezing chest pressure or pain, jaw, neck or back pain, nausea or vomiting, and shortness of breath are indicators. For women, chest pain, but not always pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen jaw, neck or upper back pain, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, fainting, indigestion and extreme fatigue. More than half of UAE residents have been affected by heart disease during their lifetime. The survey of more than a thousand UAE residents revealed that 55 per cent of respondents had been directly affected by heart disease, either through being diagnosed themselves (12 per cent), having a close friend or family member diagnosed with heart disease (53 per cent), or both. CVD is the leading cause of death in the UAE, with symptoms in patients often occurring a decade earlier than their counterparts in other developed nations.

Hospitals are constantly trying to improve their amenities to accommodate these statistics. Burjeel Medical City boasts of unparalleled excellence in interventional cardiology and patient safety. Enabled by a formidable team of doctors and cutting-edge technology, the hospital constantly works towards bettering clinical outcomes.

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. Even among residents over the age of 45, the highest risk group surveyed, 49 per cent had not had a heart health checkup 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 checkup for more than two years.

Aster Hospital offers several surgeries that cater to different heart diseases such as valve replacement and repaid and arterial grafting on a beating heart among others. It is for this very reason that on this day last year the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) had launched the Salamat initiative to raise the awareness of its employees about the early detection of hypertension disorders and highlight the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Anilkumar Prahlad Rao, Specialist Cardiology, Aster Clinic Bur Dubai (AJMC) highlights the importance of preventive heart care, citing that the clinic offers various health check-up packages to detect any underlying issues plus diet and exercise plans.

Gargash Hospitals’ cardiologist Dr. Sami Alhashimi explains that preventive cardiology remains the most essential, developed and focused on area due to its importance in reducing the incidence of lethal heart diseases.

There are also factors that like your oral health, which contribute to heart health. Dr. Micheal’s Dental Clinic says that patients with undiagnosed chronic gum conditions such as gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease, have the highest risk for heart disease.

There has been a major shift in heart healthcare due to Covid-19. As those with CVDs are at greater risk for serious complications from Covid-19, this obviously calls for better care from patients themselves. On the doctor’s side — innovative care solutions were sparked by the desire of patients to avoid unnecessary exposure to the virus, along with interest in reducing the cost of travel and avoiding long waiting times while increasing communication with clinicians. Most importantly, the need for fewer face-to-face doctorpatient interactions has accelerated the adoption of remote services and telemedicine.

Dr. Ranjith M, Specialist — Cardiovascular Diseases, Ahalia Hospital, has underscored this, mentioning that digital health technologies including electronic and mobile health platforms (eHealth and mHealth), telemedicine, wearable devices, sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) provide opportunities to improve access to and delivery of healthcare. At King’s College Hospital London, the cardiology department has an up to date cardio-vascular department with a one-stop service that includes full cardiac evaluation with non-invasive testing methods. Regular exercise, weight management, and a hearthealthy diet are the cornerstone of secondary CVD prevention.

With a healthy heart, the beat goes on.

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