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Friday, 05 October 2012 14:44

Preventing cardiovascular diseases

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Last Saturday was marked by the World Heart Day when emphasis was laid on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. This non-communicable disease is among the first death causes in Mauritius and includes all diseases related to the heart: blood circulation, coronary disease, stroke, heart attack and others.
The number of heart surgery has doubled during the last five years at the Cardiac Centre, Pamplemousses. Dr Mewa Takoordyal, private cardiologist, notes that there is indeed a high prevalence of heart diseases in Mauritius. “It is a known fact that high blood pressure, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia are very common in Mauritius. Our country is among the first in the world where heart diseases are so much common.

In fact, there has been a constant increase of heart problems in our hospitals and the situation is alarming. If we do not act now, the situation runs the risks of becoming catastrophic. Moreover, more and more youngsters are now at risk of developing heart diseases,” says Dr Takoordyal. He adds that his youngest patient is only 21 years old while in France, his youngest patient is 32 years old.

The risk factors of cardiovascular diseases are: hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, heavy weight, obesity and hereditary. It is very important to take preventive measures at the earliest to avoid the development of the disease.

The cardiologist warns that the prevalence of heavy weight and obesity is on the rise, especially among kids. “Nowadays, there are many children who are overweight. This further increases their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases when adults. We must thus act now to avoid the situation from getting worse,” insists Dr Takoordyal.

Another risk factor associated with cardiovascular diseases is stress. The cardiologist explains that stress causes the blood pressure to rise as well as the level of cholesterol and hence increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. “Indeed, it has been acknowledged that cardiovascular diseases are less common in countries where the citizens are less affected by stress. Which is unfortunately not the case in Mauritius.

Imported rice rich in sugar
According to the cardiologist, our diet should be reviewed. “We consume 70 to 80 tons of rice per year and this is huge! The rice we import contains an excess of sugar. It is good to know that our local rice which will be soon on the market has a much lower percentage of sugar,” says the cardiologist.

Angioplasty by Apollo Bramwell Hospital
Apollo Bramwell Hospital is the only health centre in Mauritius where primary angioplasty is carried out 24h/24. According to Dr Mahesh Krishnakumar, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Apollo Bramwell Hospital, this procedure allows a rapid unblocking of the arteries. Once the arteries are unblocked, the patients are placed under 24h/24 observation followed by regular blood tests. Up to now, some 100 patients have been treated thanks to this exercise.

Dr Krishnakumar explains that a heart attack is caused by the formation of a blood clot in one of the arteries which carries blood to the heart. When the heart is deprived of blood and oxygen, the cardiac muscles are damaged. “There are several factors which determine the damage caused by a heart attack: the size of the clot, its location, and the duration of the blockage. If the heart is deprived of blood and oxygen for a long time, the heart attack will be more serious and the muscles will be more damaged,” says the doctor.

Dr Krishnakumar points out that the first hour following a heart attack – the golden hour - is crucial for saving the life of a person.

Mauritians consume too much salt
A survey conducted by Mauritius Salt Intake Study 2012 revealed that Mauritians consume too much salt.  

The study, conducted in mid-May 2012 concurrently with the University of Mauritius, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute from Australia and the National Public Health Institute of Finland, has revealed that the salt intake in the population is higher than is generally recommended. The World Health Organisation recommends that the level of daily salt intake is less than five grams per day.

According to the study, the overall age-sex standardised mean salt intake was estimated at 7.9 g daily. 83.2% of adults aged 30-59 years consumed five or more grams of salt daily and 20.8% of adults aged 30 to 59 years consumed 10 or more grams of salt. Salt intake was also found to be higher among men. Furthermore, the study reveals that there is no significant difference in salt consumption between the urban and rural regions.

In this respect, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life will develop dietary salt reduction strategies in line with the WHO recommended policies, under three main areas, namely: food production, that is the development or manufacturing of products with the lowest possible content of salt; changes in environment to ensure that consumers are able to choose the healthiest foods through appropriate labelling; and health promotion and consumer education amongst the different target groups of society.
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