x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Heart check-ups plea

A leading cardiologist expresses concern that residents were not taking heart-disease statistics seriously enough to visit their doctors on a regular basis.

Johanna Buenviaje takes the blood pressure of Abdul Momin, 25, as his friend Faruk, 20, watches during a free public health awareness screening at Dubai's Rashid Hospital for World Heart Day yesterday.
Johanna Buenviaje takes the blood pressure of Abdul Momin, 25, as his friend Faruk, 20, watches during a free public health awareness screening at Dubai's Rashid Hospital for World Heart Day yesterday.

DUBAI // A leading cardiologist expressed concern yesterday that residents were not taking heart-disease statistics seriously enough to visit their doctors on a regular basis. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the UAE; between six and 12 per cent of the population suffers from it. But Dr Ahmed Gabroun, the specialist registrar of the cardiology unit at Rashid Hospital in Dubai, said: "There is a certain mentality in this country which stops people from visiting the doctor unless they are sick, and even then, they tend to go to the hospital rather than the doctor."

He noted that there was no structured system in the UAE forcing people to have regular check-ups, and there were more deaths related to heart disease than from car accidents and breast cancer. Furthermore, smoking and inactivity had risen, he said, especially among the younger generation. To mark National Heart Day yesterday, Rashid Hospital offered free testing for various heart-related diseases. "We want to increase awareness of the 'modifiable' factors; factors that can be changed to reduce the risk of heart disease," Dr Gabroun said.

These include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, inactivity and cholesterol levels. "For issues such as blood pressure and cholesterol," he said, "people need to go and get regular check-ups. Because if they don't the symptoms for these will only show once it is too late." "They think that they do not need to visit the doctor because they are healthy, but they need to go to prevent diseases from starting," he said, adding that a yearly check-up is all that is needed.

According to Nisreen Abu Ghoush, a clinical dietician at the hospital, the problem is lack of commitment. "We try and give the patients follow-up sessions, but less than half ever come back," she said. "They do not want to commit, and they find changing their lifestyle difficult." nsamaha@thenational.ae