Abu Dhabi: Increasing
awareness about the need for an active lifestyle could be prompting a spate of
heart attacks and cardiac episodes among younger residents in the country,
doctors said on Sunday.
About 10 to 20 per
cent of recent cardiac episodes, especially among young patients seen at the
capital’s Universal Hospital, were actually triggered by sudden, unaccustomed
exertion, Dr George Koshy, chief medical officer, head of cardiology and
consultant interventional cardiologist at Universal Hospital, told Gulf News.
“The physical effort
typically uncovers a latent problem. This does not mean that people should not
undertake exercise and physical activity. Instead, they should get themselves
assessed and develop an exercise plan, especially if they have some underlying
risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” Dr Koshy said.
“Given the prevalence
of cardiac episodes among young people from the Middle East and South Asia, we
now recommend screenings even for individuals as young as 20 years old,
especially if they smoke or are obese,” he added.
Dr. Koshy was speaking
on the sidelines of a press conference, where doctors announced that the
Hospital’s ‘Know Your Numbers” cardiovascular screening campaign would continue
for another month.Dr Shabeer Nellikode, the hospital’s founder and managing
director, said the programme has seen an extremely positive response since it
was launched in the beginning of September, having already screened 2,000
residents for their risk of heart disease.
“It is a well-known
fact that heart disease afflicts people from South Asia and the Middle East at
least 10 year before it affects people of other ethnicities. We therefore want
to assist the UAE in its mission to reduce the mortality cardiovascular
disease, the top killer in the country,” Dr Nellikode said.
According to Dr Koshy,
the hospital saw its youngest patient with a cardiac episode about a year ago
when a 19-year-old Arab male experienced a mild heart attack.
man had just started playing volleyball when he had a heart attack, and a
31-year-old was brought in with a cardiac event which occurred while he was
playing badminton,” Dr Koshy said.
The doctor therefore
advised that residents see a doctor and chalk up a workable exercise plan that
gradually scales up the level of physical effort.
“Many of these young
people also smoke, and then if they suddenly take up exercise, it can place
sudden additional strain on the heart. This is why it is a good idea to see a
doctor before embarking on strenuous physical exercise,” Dr Koshy said.
About 30 per cent of
the people screened as part of the hospital’s campaign were found to be
smokers, while another 30 per cent were diabetic.
“The good news is that
there is increasing awareness about these health risks. For instance, we come
across smokers who say they’ve tried to quit a few times, and this is a
departure from the past when most smokers would never try to kick the habit,”
the doctor said.