Cardiovascular diseases claim 17 million lives every year around the globe. In Turkey, heart attacks kill about 200,000 people annually, according to experts who warned about the deadly condition on World Health Day, marked on Sept. 29.
Projections show that more than 22 million people will die of cardiovascular diseases by 2030. In Turkey, these diseases dominate the list of the main causes of death. Figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) this summer for 2019 show 36.8% of deaths stemmed from cardiovascular diseases. The increase in the rate of these diseases is tied to the country's rapidly aging population, and the rate is predicted to continue rising in the near future due to increases in life expectancy and cases of diabetes.
Dr. Fedakar Günsili of Ankara Özel Umut Hospital said heart attacks and strokes can be prevented “at a rate of 80%” with a healthy diet, regular physical activity and quitting smoking. Günsili told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Tuesday that cardiovascular diseases are largely preventable with “a few minor changes in lifestyle.”
“Eating healthily and watching our weight, and controlling blood pressure if we suffer from high blood pressure are key to prevent the development of those diseases,” he said.
Cardiovascular diseases are also a dire risk in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. Studies show the fatality rate from the coronavirus among people without preexisting diseases is 0.9%. The death rate exceeds 10% for those with preexisting conditions.
“So, if you have those diseases, you should be extra careful about COVID-19,” Günsili said. “The virus targets lungs and attacks heart tissue, causing myocarditis. To compensate for a lack of oxygen in the blood, the lungs force an increase in the circulation rate. A sick heart which needs to be more active is eventually affected more,” he warned.
Günsili said smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle negatively affect the heart. He noted that 1 in every 3 adults is obese in Turkey. “Studies show more than 20 million people are smokers and 44% of the society is not engaged in regular physical activities. It is safe to say that about 35% of the society are potential patients for heart diseases,” he noted.
Professor Bülent Mutlu, a member of the Turkish Society of Cardiology, said Turkey is the first in Europe for obesity rates and women are at higher risk. Mutlu said it is easier to combat cardiovascular diseases nowadays thanks to new innovative methods that emerged in the last decade. He said failure to treat heart diseases seriously affects the well-being of society as those diseases also affect families who rely on the patient as the sole breadwinner of the household. “Heart diseases are still a significant burden on the world,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday.
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