The World Heart Report 2023, a study by the World Heart Federation, paints a concerning picture of global heart health. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), such as cardiac arrests, have become the leading global cause of death.
The number of fatalities has skyrocketed from roughly 12.1 million in 1990 to 18.6 million in 2019, a shocking 53 percent increase. These heart diseases are equally distributed among males and females, making no gender immune.
The Plight of Low and Middle-Income Countries
Over 80 percent of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, including Nigeria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016 revealed that in Nigeria, noncommunicable diseases were estimated to account for 29 percent of all deaths, of which CVDs contributed 11 percent. CVDs which are on the increase over the past 20 years in Nigeria include hypertension, heart failure, and stroke.
Many annual deaths due to sudden cardiac death (SCD) occur in people under 50. Alarmingly, 2023 has seen a surge in cardiac arrests among young adults, underlining the need for enhanced awareness and preventative measures for all age groups.
The Importance of Regular Monitoring and Early Detection
Heart health requires a dynamic, lifelong approach. Regular monitoring and early detection, particularly from the 40s onwards, are vital for managing heart health.
Family and community activities play a significant role in adult heart health, providing physical activity, emotional support, stress relief, and educational opportunities. These group activities foster a heart-healthy lifestyle over the long term.
As individuals age, health assessments become increasingly important, with specific tests recommended for monitoring heart health. These include blood pressure screening, cholesterol profile, blood sugar tests, C reactive protein (CRP) test, electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG), echocardiogram, coronary calcium scan, carotid intima-media thickness test (CIMT), and HbA1c test.
In 2019, over 1 million premature deaths across EU countries could have been averted through effective prevention and healthcare interventions. Most preventable mortality was attributed to ischemic heart diseases, lung cancer, alcohol-related deaths, and transport accidents.
Treatable causes of mortality included ischemic heart disease, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and stroke. Avoidable mortality rates were lower in Cyprus, Italy, and Malta compared to Hungary, Latvia, Romania, and Lithuania.
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to impact avoidable mortality, particularly preventable mortality, as COVID-19 deaths are considered preventable through public health interventions and vaccinations.