Qatar’s addiction to junk food is causing an epidemic of heart disease in the young, a senior cardiology consultant at Hamad’s Heart Hospital has said. Speaking to the Peninsula yesterday, Dr. Omar Al Tamimi said:
“We have concerns about the growing fast food culture in the region and we are advising people to reduce the habit of eating out and go for healthy food cooked at home.”
According to HMC, a quarter of the angiograms performed last year were done on patients between the ages of 30 to 40. And some 2.5 percent, or 75 people, were below 30 years old.
These statistics back up the findings of a joint Weill Cornell and Hamad Medical Corporation study released earlier this year, which concluded that two out of three heart attack patients in Qatar are less than 55 years old.
This is a significantly different pattern to statistics in other developed countries such as the US and the UK, where the majority of patients are over the age of 65.
Al Tamimi also said that the rise of heart disease in women is of increasing concern – 30 percent of Qatari patients receiving angiograms at Hamad Hospital last year were women. Angiograms are among the most invasive, expensive tests used to diagnose heart disease.
Fast food culture blamed
According to HMC, there were 1,600 heart attacks in Qatar last year. However, a total of 10,500 patients were referred to HMC’s Heart Hospital after they’d reported heart-related problems. Some 3,000 of these were sent for diagnostic tests, and more than half of these patients required medical interventions like stenting.
Data on heart attack incidences in previous years is not immediately available, but figures from the Qatar Statistics Authority show that the number of deaths due to circulatory system diseases (including coronary heart disease) in Qatar actually decreased by 2 percent between 2010 and 2011.
If this trend continued in 2012, it seems likely that increasing rates of early detection and treatment are helping to reduce deaths, despite the overall increase in the number of residents suffering from heart problems.
Al Tamimi has urged Qatar’s residents to curb their bad eating habits, which increase the risk of developing obesity, diabetes and hypertension, all risk factors for coronary heart disease.
“Healthy diet and regular physical exercise are two important things to prevent heart diseases,” he said.
Credit: Photo by Duane Schoon