NEWS

Heart disease, diabetes rates rise

Scientists noticed that people in two age groups – 15-35 and 45-65 – showed increases in the number of preventable deaths. Kyriopoulos says the deaths rise after age 15 because teenagers get involved in often fatal motorcycle or moped accidents and those accidents go on until the age of 30. At 34, people increasingly get involved in car accidents. By 40 the number of deaths related to traffic accidents drops, but then by 45 the death rate increases again because of heart attacks, strokes or lung cancer. Ischemic heart disease Ischemic heart disease is defined by restricted blood supply that damages tissue and can lead to death. Kyriopoulos says that this type of heart disease has been studied in depth by the group, since it is considered both treatable and preventable. In 1980, for instance, ischemic heart disease caused 53.39 deaths per 100,000 people, he said. That rate increased until 1995, when it finally decreased. Nevertheless, and despite the advances made in cardiology, the 2003 rate – at 59.17 deaths per 100,000 people – is still higher than the 1980 rate. «We see that in this area… we don’t have the gains we expected,» he said. To what do you attribute this [heart disease] rate? To obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and other high-risk factors related to lifestyle. My personal opinion, based on information from other countries, is that in the coming years mortality rates from cardiovascular diseases will drop. Effort is still needed here, though, because precautionary measures must be adopted. The rise in indicators of preventable deaths from sugar diabetes over the last few years is especially worrisome in the health services, especially in cases of deaths from Type 1 diabetes [also known as juvenile diabetes] and Type 2 diabetes [the more common form of the disease, which can occur in people of all ages]. There has also been a rise in incidences of high blood pressure, after years in which it posted a decrease. Obesity, public health Do you think the problem of obesity should be part of the public health debate? From the moment that large sectors of the population have a problem that is related to lifestyle and diet, clinical doctors consider it a problem both on an individual level and for public health as a whole. Does the presumption prevail that public health services are obliged to be concerned with issues such as food and water safety and not only with infectious diseases? I’m more concerned about issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and sugar diabetes, which are major factors causing risk. Of course, the political system wants immediate and visible results [in public health]… But even the final parts of this study suggest that [policy] is gathering speed due to international awareness and technological advances. These findings [in the study] indicate that an enrichment of health policy is needed: an overhaul of national healthcare policy, in the framework of a sweeping, complete program, that the unforgettable Spyros Doxiadis had urged for us so many years ago.