Heart disease remains top cause of death despite improved treatments — expert

Published February 27, 2018, 6:58 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Charina Clarisse Echaluce

Despite improved understanding and treatments, heart disease remains the leading cause of death, a cardiologist warned today.

Heart attacks tend to happen most often during the winter, and could be linked to the seasonal rise in flu and other respiratory infections, researchers say (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“If we are going to base it on the recent WHO [World Health Organization] Top 10 Causes of Death, ischemic heart disease and stroke still rank as top 2. That has been the trend globally for the last 15 years,” ManilaMed’s interventional cardiologist Gino Quizon said in a health forum.

This was despite all the progresses, Quizon noted.

“Majority of structural and coronary artery disease interventions can now be done percutaneously. We can now repair coronary artery and peripheral artery blockages, fix congenital holes/defects, coil aneurysms, and repair valvular diseases without the need for major surgeries. Even the materials we use have evolved and have been updated to provide better care and outcomes,” he stated.

For instance, the doctor mentioned the improvement in angioplasty.

“The major advantage of angioplasty is it is done percutaneously, the patient doesn’t need to be opened up [except in some severe cases]. Also, the recovery period is faster,” he disclosed.

But amid all the aforementioned improvements, the heart disease mortality is still high.

“It is easier to be unhealthy, and it is such an effort to live a healthy lifestyle. Most of the food that are considered sumptuous and most of the activities regarded as enjoyable are those that are bad for our health. Tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking are still rampant,” Quizon explained.

With this, health experts are currently suggesting a new paradigm.

“How should we eat under the new paradigm? Moderation is the key. The 2016 European Guidelines on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention recommends a low saturated fat diet with focus on wholegrain products, fish, fruits and vegetables. A recent study published on February 20 concludes that a low-fat diet is comparable to a low-carbohydrate diet in a 12-month study period,” he noted.

Moreover, the Quizon stressed that heart disease is ultimately a lifestyle disease that is caused by bad dietary and lifestyle choices rather than pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungus.

“The risk of acquiring hypertension, heart attack, or stroke certainly is higher if we have it in our genes. However, it does not automatically mean we are doomed if we have it in our blood. There are other risk factors, which are modifiable that we can address, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol control, and stress management. Addressing all other risk factors would offset and prevent a cardiovascular event,” he said.