Thirty percent of deaths are due to heart diseases

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Alvine Kapitako

Windhoek – In Namibia, 30 percent of all deaths are a result of cardiovascular diseases, a cardiologist has said.
Dr Simon Beshir, a cardiologist at the Roman Catholic and Windhoek Central hospitals, told New Era that cardiovascular diseases are also responsible for 30 percent of all hospital admissions and 30 percent of health care cost.

This is the same statistics as the rest of the world, added Beshir. “We have all sorts of heart diseases in Namibia,” said Beshir.

High blood pressure if uncontrolled and untreated may cause heart failure, stroke or kidney failure, stated Beshir. Also, high blood pressure, affects all age groups, Beshir added.

“Blockages of heart arteries causing chest pain and heart attacks are very common in Namibia,” added Beshir.
Furthermore, children are affected by rheumatic heart disease that can damage their heart valves, he explained, adding that some children are born with heart abnormalities and require complicated operations early in their lives.

Heart rhythm problems, where the heart either beats too fast or too slow, are also very common in Namibia.
The causes of heart diseases in Namibia are mostly because of lifestyle, habits, for instance, when people eat unhealthy food, are physically inactive, or drink alcohol and smoke.
Beshir stressed that exercise, eating the correct foods and drinking lots of water is very important to reducing
the chances of cardiovascular diseases.

People should consume less processed food (carbohydrates) and sugars such as sweets, fruit juices, cool drinks, bread, pasta, added the cardiologist.

“Home-cooked food with lots of veggies, lean meat, fish, eggs, yoghurt and similar stuff should be on our plates. We should try not to stress about things we cannot change. If we have bad genes and bad family history of heart disease we should get checked early and stick to the above rules even more tightly,” said Beshir.
Also, “bad genes” in the case where relatives suffered heart attacks or stroke at a young age contribute to the development of heart disease.

“Namibia is a large country, specialised services are centralised usually in Windhoek. In some cases, such as acute heart attack, this long distance can be life threatening. Twenty percent of patients who develop a heart attack die before they reach a hospital worldwide. In our country this number is likely to be much higher,” said Beshir.
It is essential for people to seek medical attention as soon as they develop ‘scary symptoms’ such as severe chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations.

“If these symptoms are not severe but they keep coming or getting gradually worse, please see your family doctor or general practitioner, who may refer you to us or one of the private cardiologists or physicians for further tests. If you are on medications, take them regularly. Talk to your doctor before you stop any cardiac medication,” added Beshir.

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