Around 44 Percent of the Population Fear Dying of Heart Disease and 76 Percent Believe the Under-40s Not Concerned Enough
A new survey of social attitudes towards heart disease has revealed widespread concern about the illness across the United Arab Emirates, with leading regional heart doctors calling for greater education on the topic.
The survey, which was commissioned by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s network of healthcare providers, and the region’s leading heart care hospital, sought responses from more than 1,000 UAE nationals and residents to a series of questions about heart disease and its root causes.
In total, some 44 percent of people said they feared dying of heart disease, with women more likely to register this as a concern (49 percent) than men (43 percent). The survey, conducted leading up to World Heart Day on September 29, revealed a broad consensus among UAE residents about the risks of heart disease, with 76 percent of survey respondents saying that they believed people under 40 should be more concerned about the illness.
Despite broad awareness of heart disease among the population, there was less understanding of the factors that influence a person’s heart health, particularly among younger people.
Surveyed UAE nationals and residents between the ages of 18 and 29 were significantly less likely to be aware of the role family history can play in a person’s risk of developing heart disease. More than half of young respondents – 51 percent – said family history was not a factor in heart health, compared to the 62 percent of total respondents who said it was. Experts agree that people with a family history are significantly more likely to develop some form of heart disease over their lifetimes.
Most respondents – across all age groups, nationalities, income groups and emirates of residence – indicated they felt they could control the health of their heart, with 79 percent responding in the affirmative. Strikingly, the level of confidence increased as respondents in the survey group got older, with 85 percent of people over 40 saying they could control their heart health, compared to 74 percent of people under 29.
Regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet can significantly reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease over their lifetime. The survey results suggested a disparity between Emirati nationals and other nationalities in the level of awareness of the factors that can improve heart health, with 71 percent of Emirati nationals believing they could improve their heart health, compared with 83 percent of Asian respondents and 92 percent of westerners.
A parallel study, surveying social attitudes to heart health in Kuwait, showed similar findings, with 39 percent of survey respondents in Kuwait feared dying due to heart disease, and 71 percent believing that people under 40 should be more concerned about the illness.
“The results of this survey show that heart disease is a real and present concern across the whole community in the UAE and the region, and that more people are looking for support in managing their heart health,” said Dr. Rakesh M. Suri, Chief of Staff and Chief of Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
“It demonstrates that the campaign against heart disease needs to be multidimensional – improving health education and also ensuring that everyone has access to the advanced technologies and sophisticated therapies that can treat heart issues as they occur,” said Dr. Suri.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has played a pioneering role in introducing new cardiovascular treatments to the UAE, such as catheter-based valve interventions, hybrid coronary revascularization, minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery.
The survey was conducted between August 21-28, 2017, by YouGov, with a pool of respondents from across the UAE and Kuwait.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is marking World Heart Day with a month-long campaign, “Love Your Heart”, which includes community health activities, online heart health education resources and a range of initiatives designed to raise awareness about the advanced cardiovascular services available at the hospital.
One of the highlights will be a special ‘Cycle for Health’ event at Zayed Sports City on September 30, presented by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Health Authority – Abu Dhabi in partnership with Healthpoint and Imperial College London Diabetes Centre.