Keeping up with global trends, the Turkish public succumbed to the highest rate of cardiovascular or circulatory system diseases last year, according to the latest health figures. According to 2016 statistics on the causes of death, released by state-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), 162,876 people died of those diseases in 2016, a total of 39.8 percent of all deaths caused by diseases in the country.
Cardiovascular diseases that are mostly attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle are the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more people die annually due to these causes than from any other cause.
As a result of dietary trends that include foods high in fat, the rising popularity of a sedentary lifestyle and the growth in the aging population are all factors that contribute to the rising rates of these diseases, according to experts.
Neoplasms or abnormal growth-causing cancers came second in terms of diseases causing the most deaths at 19.7 percent, followed by respiratory system diseases.
Mortality rates among patients suffering from circulatory system diseases were highest among heart disease patients and cerebrovascular diseases, according to TurkStat figures.
Numbers also reveal that diseases of the circulatory system were most prevalent among patients ages 75-to-84 while cancer and relevant diseases were common among patients ages 65-to-74.
TurkStat also looked at the cities with a high rate of deaths from cardiovascular diseases and found that Amasya, a quiet city in northern Turkey, topped the list followed by Sakarya in the northwest. The highest rate of cancer cases were seen in Tekirdağ, a city west of Istanbul.
Experts advise the public to avoid risk factors for diseases such as high blood pressure and high blood fat levels. Quitting smoking, curbing alcohol consumption, pursuing more physical activity and consuming more fruits and vegetables are vital to preventing circulatory system diseases.
Some experts say the increase in the rate of cardiovascular diseases is tied to the country's rapidly aging population and those diseases would be more prevalent in the near future due to an increase in life expectancy and cases of diabetes. The proportion of Turkey's elderly population stands at 6.6 million as of 2016 after it increased 17.1 percent over the last five years.
Figures show more and more people are pursuing a sedentary lifestyle, an alarming trend especially among children who tend to spend more time watching TV or spending time online, establishing unhealthy habits at an early age.
The Health Ministry seeks to combat the phenomenon, encouraging the public to avoid unhealthy snacks and turning to healthier foods as well as routine exercise. The Ministry organizes city-wide and nation-wide walks and promotes the use of bicycles to encourage people to engage in more physical activity.
Health authorities say migration from rural areas to urban centers have changed people's habits, while healthy nutrition and manual labor have been replaced with fast food and office work, making it difficult for people to stay fit given the consumption culture, dishes with high fat content, a lack of regular exercise and dealing with stresses of daily life associated with life in crowded cities.