The number of deaths caused by diseases of the circulatory system increased by more than 40 per cent from 2010 to last year, according to the Health Authority–Abu Dhabi's 2011 annual statistics.
The figure jumped from 762 deaths in 2010 to 1,089 the following year – a startling increase of 42.9 per cent.
However, the reason for the surge is not clear.
More than half the number of deaths caused by diseases of the circulatory system occurred within the expatriate population.
Circulatory system diseases can range from a brain stroke to a heart attack to gangrene. Other diseases that fall under the category include heart valve disease and varicose veins.
The rise in deaths should not cause alarm, because more investigations need to be carried out, said Dr Wael Nasr, a vascular surgeon at CosmeSurge.
"We've been relatively stable [with our patient load]. Looking at the increase, if we see a sudden increase in prevalence or incidence, what do we look at? Are we diagnosing more of the disease? Was it already there and we didn't know about it?
"Maybe Abu Dhabi has licensed several new doctors that specialise in the circulatory system. Has there been newer technology brought in? Is there greater awareness among patients that makes them present to doctors at an earlier stage?"
Other factors could include a more effective method of data collection, said the doctor.
"Usually we don't see, in medicine, such a drastic rise in the prevalence of the disease – especially circulatory system diseases.
It's not really a jump that happens between one year or the next.
"Just saying there is a rise is not enough, especially for us as clinicians. There are other questions."
Dr Jairam Aithal, an interventional cardiologist and peripheral interventionalist at New Medical Centre (NMC) Specialty Hospital, said conditions such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure and arrhythmias were the leading causes of death from circulatory disorders in patients over the age of 45.
For patients under the age of 30, this was congenital cardiac disorders.
While obesity has never been indicated as a risk factor, said Dr Nasr, complications could arise from being overweight, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Without a more thorough breakdown of figures, Dr Aithal said it would be difficult to discuss the statistics at this stage.
At NMC, no trend has emerged that signals an increase.
"We have not witnessed significant increase in the mortality rates due to circulatory disorders as compared to the previous year," said the doctor.
The Health Authority–Abu Dhabi was not available for comment.