By Maria Gregoriou
OVER 2,000 people a year die from heart disease in Cyprus every year, making it the leading cause of death on the island.
Health Minister Petros Petrides, marking the beginning of annual Heart Week yesterday said: “These deaths can be prevented by a change in lifestyle. The message for this year’s world heart day is ‘take the road to a healthy heart’”
Heart week aims at raising awareness and to inform the public about cardiovascular diseases. It is organised by the Cyprus Heart Foundation (CHF) and the health ministry.
President of CHF, Christos Mavrelli said: “Every euro spent on preventing heart disease is an investment because every person suffering from such a disease costs the government a considerable amount more, Mavrelli said.
Cardiologist and president of the committee for the prevention of heart disease for CHF Dr Pambis Nicolaides, highlighted the fact that efforts to prevent heart disease should start from an early age as healthy children tend to be healthy adults.
“The majority of heart diseases are due to risk factors that can be monitored,” he said.
By avoiding smoking, exercising regularly and following a healthy diet, 80 per cent of these early deaths can be avoided.”
As shown by the latest epidemiological studies in Cyprus, 27.8 per cent of adults are obese and 36.1 per cent are overweight. Regarding children, 20.1 per cent are overweight and 8.1 per cent are obese.
The study also showed that the amount of exercise performed by children and young adults has fallen compared to previous years.
“The lack of physical activity during childhood usually continues into adulthood, thus contributing to the increased risk of heart disease,” said Nicolaides.
“Every year, the lack of exercise contributes to three million deaths worldwide, which could have been prevented.”
As part of the effort to raise awareness the CHF together with the Dietitians Association is organising ‘heart journey’ events where cardiologists, dietitians and nurses go around the country.
“So far we have visited five areas and measured the cholesterol and blood pressure of 563 people, while also informing them about preventive measures they can take,” said Nicolaides.
These areas were; Lythrodontas, Akaki, Psimolofou, Aradippou, Yermasoyia and the Nicosia suburb of Pallouriotissa,. The average level of cholesterol was 214mg/dl, which is slightly higher than the targeted level of 190mg/dl. Of the village residents, 28.6 per cent were overweight.
Member of CHF Marios Hannides gave advice on how people could beat heart disease by “qutting smoking, eating more fruit and vegetables, using less salt, drinking less alcohol, and maintaining the ideal body weight.”
An awareness campaign will be held on Saturday from 10am to 7pm at the Mall of Cyprus. Information will be available and free testing will be offered by cardiologists, nutritionists, nurses and other health care organisations.