Why is heart disease growing, and what can we do about it?
Heart disease is a global problem. It’s the #1 cause of death globally and accounts for almost one-third of all deaths worldwide, killing 17.9 million people each year.1
Frighteningly, it continues to grow, nearly doubling from 271 million people with heart disease in 1990 to 523 million by 2019.2 During the same period, deaths resulting from heart disease increased from 12.1 million to 18.6 million.2
The problem faces every region of the world. In the U.S., one person dies every 36 seconds from heart disease,3 while in Singapore, 19 people die each day from heart disease and stroke.4 Hong Kong sees more than 13% of its total deaths from heart disease, and 66% of those from coronary heart disease.5 And in the Middle East, heart failure patients are at least 10 years younger than patients in other regions.6
The cost of heart disease – to patients and to healthcare systems around the world – is staggering. The American Heart Association predicts that costs related to U.S. heart disease will double from $555 billion in 2015 to $1.1 trillion in 2035.7 In the Middle East, it is estimated that the total costs to treat heart failure are close to $2 billion.8 In Hong Kong, the annual costs related to cardiovascular disease are $4.8 billion.9
The question is, why is it growing, and how do we avoid becoming a statistic?
Heart disease is driven by several factors,
including genetics, age, gender, other disease and lifestyle.10
The elderly population of the world is increasing,11 and the risk of heart disease grows with age. In many regions of the world, there is continuing growth in obesity and diabetes,12 which are major risk factors for heart disease.10 Obesity also fuels high cholesterol and high blood pressure,13 which are also major risk factors. In regions like Asia and the Middle East, this is attributed to the adoption of a Western diet and habits, as well as a move from rural areas to cities.14 Smoking – a major risk factor – is also common in the Middle East, creating a major health issue.15 Lack of disease awareness can also contribute, such as in Vietnam, where only one-quarter of the people are aware of the risks of high blood pressure.16
While there are some risk factors you cannot change – such as your age, gender or genetics – there are several important steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease:10
- Choose healthy foods – eat plenty of vegetables and fruit and fewer processed foods or those high in fat
- Keep to a healthy weight – carrying excess weight can put extra stress on the heart and blood vessels
- Get regular physical exercise – getting 2½ hours of moderate-intensity exercise every week, such as brisk walking and bicycling, can help control weight and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Don’t smoke – smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease; if you smoke, quitting will lower your risk
- Control stress – chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor; you can manage stress through exercise, proper sleep, relaxation techniques, and spending time doing things you enjoy
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations for prescribed medication, treatment and disease management – have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly, monitor blood sugar if you have diabetes, take prescribed medications for blood pressure and cholesterol, and make recommended lifestyle changes
Because heart disease is so prevalent, there has been significant innovation in treatments for individuals who have it.
The latest innovation in the treatment of coronary artery disease is the DynamX™ Bioadaptor, which not only opens blocked arteries but also allows arteries to move more naturally than rigid drug-eluting stents do. This enables the arteries to expand when more blood flow is needed during activity like climbing the stairs or taking a walk. If fatty deposits or other substances, known as plaque, begin to build up again, the bioadaptor allows the artery to increase in size in order to keep the blood flowing well. Allowing natural artery motion may mean that the bioadaptor can offer long-term benefits when compared to stents that cage the artery. These benefits may include a reduced risk of negative effects like follow-on heart attacks, more hospital stays, additional stent procedures, or even death over time.
- Cardiovascular diseases. World Health Organization. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases/#tab=tab_1.
- Roth GA, Mensah GA, Johnson CO et al. Global burden of cardiovascular diseases and risk factors, 1990-2019: update from the GBD 2019 study. JACC. 2020; 76(25): 2982-3021.
- Heart disease facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm.
- Heart statistics/Singapore statistics. Singapore Heart Foundation. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://www.myheart.org.sg/my-heart/heart-statistics/singapore-statistics/.
- Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Accessed August 5, 2021. https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/healthtopics/content/25/57.html.
- Al-Shamiri MQ. Heart failure in the Middle East. Current Cardiology Reviews. 2013; 9(2): 174-178.
- Khavjou O, Dunbar SB, Whitsel L, Nelson S. Circulation. Abstract 16715: projected costs of informal caregiving for cardiovascular disease: 2015-2035. 2017;136:A16715
- AlHabeeb W, Akhras K, AlGhalayini K, et al. Understanding heart failure burden in Middle East countries: economic impact in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Value in Health. 2018; V21, supplement 1, S123.
- Economist Intelligence Unit. The cost of silence: cardiovascular disease in Asia. https://eiuperspectives.economist.com/sites/default/files/The_cost_of_silence.pdf. Published 2018. Accessed August 2, 2021.
- Understand your risks to prevent a heart attack. American Heart Association. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/understand-your-risks-to-prevent-a-heart-attack.
- United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. World population ageing 2019 Highlights. https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/ageing/WorldPopulationAgeing2019-Highlights.pdf. Published 2019. Accessed August 2, 2021.
- Ampofo AG, Boateng EB. Beyond 2020: modeling obesity and diabetes prevalence. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2020; 167. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2020.108362
- National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: the evidence report. NIH publication No. 98-4083. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/ob_gdlns.pdf. Published 1998. Accessed August 2, 2021.
- Popkin BM, Adair LS, Ng SW. Now and then: the global nutrition transition: the pandemic of obesity in developing countries. Nutrition Reviews. 2012; 70(1): 3-21. doi: 1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00456.x
- Khattab AA, Javaid A, Iraqi G, Alzaabi A. Smoking habits in the Middle East and North Africa: results of the BREATHE study. Respiratory Medicine. 2012; 106(Suppl 2): S16-24. doi:1016/S0954-6111(12)70011-2
- Nguyen TT, Trevisan M. Vietnam a country in transition: health challenges. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health. 2020; 3. doi:10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000069.
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