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World Heart Day by Dr.Iain Corness

World Heart Day

This month has World Heart Day. I know that there are all sorts of “world” days for us to celebrate such as “World Three Legged Water Spaniel Day” and “World Elephant Dancing Day”, but other than World No Smoking Day, nothing comes close to the significance of World Heart Day.

Why? Because heart disease still remains the world’s greatest killer, despite improvements in the overall statistics. The list goes:

1 Heart disease
2 Cancer
3 Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases)
4 Chronic lower respiratory diseases
5 Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6 Diabetes
7 Alzheimer’s disease
8 Influenza/Pneumonia
9 Kidney diseases
10 Septicemia

I have to say that I am at a bit of a loss to explain why Alzheimer’s disease is considered a killer, but the World Health Organization must have its own reasons.

Being a ‘world’ problem, it is also interesting to see the best countries not to live in. Here are some interesting statistics (again from WHO).

Turkmenistan saw the highest rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease in 2012, with 712 deaths per 100,000 people. Kazakhstan has the second highest rate, with 635 deaths per 100,000. Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Guyana, Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the Republic of Moldova all have more than 500 deaths per 100,000. (Note to self: Avoid all countries that end in Stan.)

Another ‘world’ statistic - Cardiovascular disease kills 17.3 million people a year – in comparison, HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined kill 3.86 million. The majority of these cardiovascular deaths are preventable, and despite preconceptions that men are more susceptible, women are in fact equally likely to be affected.

Looking at the low end of the tables Japan is the lowest and France and Italy also low, so it would appear to be beneficial to eat sushi in olive oil and washed down with a nice bottle of Beaujolais.

However, we are here, and our wine industry is still in its infancy, and unfortunately I have no exact statistics for Thailand but it would seem likely to be around 87 deaths per 100,000, (mainly because it is difficult to get exact statistics on anything in Thailand, but just believe me when I say heart disease is also the biggest killer – especially amongst the farang community.)

In the US, coronary heart disease is still the single leading cause of death in America today.

More numbers - 16,000,000 people alive today have a history of heart attack, angina pectoris or both. This is about 8,700,000 males and 7,300,000 females.

About 310,000 people a year die of coronary infarction (heart attack) in an Emergency Department or without being hospitalized. Most of these are sudden deaths caused by cardiac arrest, usually resulting from ventricular fibrillation.

So those are fairly gruesome statistics, what can you do about your chances (other than the olive oil and bottle of Beaujolais?)

We have the risk factors well documented by now, although there is always some group of researchers with different claims, but these are the most up to date figures on risk factors:

- High blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels (a type of fat found in the blood)
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes and pre-diabetes
- Overweight and obesity
- Smoking
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy diet
- Stress

The risk factors you can't control are age, gender, and family history of coronary heart disease.

The easiest and most obvious step is to stop smoking and take a 30 minute walk every day.

However, you should consult a cardiologist and be guided by a doctor who has made the health of your heart his specialty. Don’t wait, make an appointment today.

 

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