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Sep 28, 2007

Heart Foundation launches education campaign

Story PictureWhile most people believe violence, AIDS-related illnesses and road accidents are the top three causes of death in Belize, the fact is that heart disease is the number one killer. News Five’s Jacqueline Godwin has the disturbing details.

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
There are no national statistics available on exactly how many Belizeans are living with heart related diseases but local doctors say every month approximately one hundred and fifty patients visit the Cardiac Clinic at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City. But more disturbing is that the people seeking medical attention are getting younger.

Dr. Curtis Samuels, Cardiologist
“Quite a number of younger Belizeans, both male and female, but primarily males, present culinary artery disease kind of prematurely. We’re talking about age range between forty and fifty-five years of age. And we are seeing a greater number of patients presenting with these conditions. Another disturbing observation is the increasing incidents of young Belizeans with high blood pressure.”

According to Cardiologist Dr. Curtis Samuels, a number of factors like poor eating habits, a lack of exercise, one’s genetics as well as medical conditions like Diabetes and Hypertension greatly enhances the chance of heart disease.

Dr. Curtis Samuel
“So if you have a mother or a father suffering from diabetes, the likelihood is very very high that you too, as a child—or your siblings—will present some time in your lifetime, with diabetes. And if you add to that, provocating factors like being overweight or physically inactive, these could serve to enhance the appearance of this disease prematurely.”

“These are the patients who more than likely will move towards strokes, heart attacks and other complications of the disease, kidney failure and so on.”

The World Heart Organisation has recognized that High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and Smoking are the four risk factors that can lead to heart attacks.

Dr. Curtis Samuels
“I have found that a diabetic who has had at least ten years evolution of the disease, more than likely also has an underlined culinary artery disease, whether he or she is aware of it or not. It is also important for the diabetic to keep close control and close monitoring of the liquid levels, the cholesterol levels. It is not sufficient to just get a total cholesterol test because some people get a total cholesterol test and find out that it is high, but it could be high at the expense of the good cholesterol which means that there is not a cholesterol problem, there is not a danger. But when you get a profile, the profile will tell you how much of that cholesterol is bad and how much of it is good, so you get a better picture.”

On Sunday, World Heart Day will be observed. Here at home, the Belize Heart Foundation will mark the event by launching an aggressive awareness campaign.

Dr. Curtis Samuels
“There is no substitute for physical exercise. You have to put that exercise in and try and eat a more balanced diet, including more fruits, vegetables and nuts.”

According to Dr. Samuels, starting in October the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital will begin holding cardiac clinics twice a week. For more information about the initiative, please contact the K.H.M.H. at 223-1548.

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