This is a dramatically 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.
Half of all stroke patients in Qatar are also under 55, according to the study – and the majority of heart attack and stroke victims were men, reports the Peninsula.
Qatar has been battling an obesity epidemic in recent years, and the report reflects this, identifying weight as a huge risk factor for heart disease amongst Qataris and expats alike. Some 70 percent of those studied were either overweight or clinically obese.
Preventable risk factors
The statistics are part of study just published in the first issue of the Journal of Local and Global Health Perspectives, which is produced by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) and professors at the University of Albany in New York and New York Medical College.
The study’s authors set out to find out more about the link between five preventable risk factors – diabetes, hypertension, high levels of cholesterol and other blood fats, smoking and obesity – and the development of heart attack and stroke in patients in Qatar. Both nationals and expats were included in the study.
Lead author Dr. Paul Christos, lecturer in Public Health at WCMC in New York City, explains the study’s findings:
“We found that diabetes increased the risk by over four-fold and was the strongest preventable risk factor for heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure was the second major preventable risk factor for stroke and an important factor for heart attack.
For the sub-group of Qatari nationals, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking were also identified as potential preventable risk factors. These factors seemed to increase heart attack and stroke risk among the Qataris.”
Although the data used for the study is not recent (statistics are from 2006 to 2008), it does however back up a Supreme Council of Health survey from last year, which found that most Qatari adults surveyed were overweight and inactive, vastly increasing their risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
The study’s authors conclude that encouraging the population to radically reduce their preventable risk factors could have a dramatic effect on the nation’s health:
“Designing population-level prevention interventions with awareness campaigns and supporting a culture of preventive health are critical for both Qatari nationals and the expatriate population.”
To put these statistics into perspective, the British Heart Foundation shows that the majority of heart attack patients in England are over the age of 75. Some 65 percent of all heart attack patients in the UK are men.
Meanwhile, the average age of a first heart attack for an American man is 66 years. Stroke cases tell a similar story – the vast majority of victims in England are over the age of 75, with slightly more men than women affected.
Credit: Photo by Stefou