Out of 1,000 people people surveyed by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi ahead of World Heart Day on September 29, 71 percent say they have at least one major risk factor for heart disease.
And the most common risk factors they reported are also among the most serious causes of heart disease: 23 percent reported they have high blood pressure, 15 percent have diabetes and 21 percent are obese.
Out of the respondents, 35 percent say they don’t get enough exercise and 32 percent suffer from high stress. And despite government efforts to curb smoking with an upcoming tax on cigarettes and other campaigns, 20 percent report that they continue to smoke. These lifestyle factors play a critical role in heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and sudden death.
Another key area of concern was the high number of unhealthy lifestyle factors reported by people between the ages of 30 and 39 — 43 percent say they don’t exercise enough and 36 percent suffer from stress. These factors were lower in people above 40, a group that did report higher rates of traditional risk factors such as diabetes (22 percent) and high blood pressure (35 percent)
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi sees an urgent need to tackle the root causes of heart disease, all of them preventable — obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and stress.
“While there is a growing awareness among the population of how lifestyle impacts their heart health, there is still a great deal of work to be done in order to tackle the issues that drive high levels of heart disease in our community,” says Professor E Murat Tuzcu, chair of the Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
Another worrying note: 75 percent of women compared to 68 percent of men reported at least one risk factor that may result in heart disease or stroke. Of those surveyed, 42 percent reported a lack of exercise, 24 percent were obese and 24 percent suffered from stress.
Many of the women believed they were less likely to develop heart disease than men, an illness that actually affects both sexes in equal numbers after middle age.
The survey also found disparities in risk factors among people from different nationalities.
Despite displaying a high awareness of the importance of healthy eating and regular physical activity, antidotes to obesity, More than half of Western residents surveyed, 52 percent, said they do not get enough exercise despite reporting a high awareness of importance of healthy eating and regular physical activity.
Only 22 percent of Asian residents report being obese, but, at 38 percent, they were found to be the most stressed, alongside having higher than average rates of high blood pressure at 29 percent.
Awareness of how obesity negatively impacts heart health is also an issue. Some 37 percent of Emiratis surveyed had no idea that a high Body Mass Index — calculated from a average person’s height and weight — increased their risk of heart disease; That compared to an average of 29 percent and just 12 percent of residents from the West.
“I encourage people to look at these results and consider what lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer in Abu Dhabi, says Tuzcu.
The hospital’s prior survey, in 2017, showed that one in five UAE residents were unaware that they were responsible for their own heart health; two in five were unaware of the role of family history plays in heart disease.
People who want to know more about the risks of heart disease and the steps they can take to reduce them can visit knowyourheart.
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