Obesity, lack of exercise spikes rate of cardiovascular disease in Greece

Decades of smoking, fast-food consumption, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle have overridden the long-touted, healthful Mediterranean diet and made Greeks more susceptible to cardiovascular disease. Greece is no longer on the list of nations at low risk of such diseases, according to scientists and medical scholars at the Pan-European Convention on the Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease, which ends tomorrow. Scholars including university professors Dimitris Kremastinos, Christos Pitsavos and Ioannis Lekakis, and the Hellenic Cardiology Association’s leader Harisios Boudoulas offered the latest findings on the issue. The scholars referred to epidemiological research such as a survey which discovered that one in three inhabitants of Attica have hypertension, 43 percent have excessive cholesterol levels and 8 percent have sugar diabetes. Meanwhile, seven in 10 men and half of all women are smokers or ex-smokers, while six in 10 do not exercise. The survey formed the basis of the HeartScore Greece program evaluating the cardiovascular risk among the Greek population. Through this program, doctors can precisely evaluate a person’s risk of incurring a heart attack within the next decade. The advantage of the program, supervised by the Hellenic and European Cardiology Associations, is that it focuses on risk factors solely affecting the Greek population and which differ from those for other European nations. Starting yesterday, questionnaires were sent to doctors via the Internet. Greece is the third country after Sweden and Germany to carry out such a program. The speakers at the convention also referred to the need for a pre-hospitalization care system for people who have had a heart attack, since fewer than half of these patients reach hospitals in time for their lives to be saved. They added that ambulance service should be supplied with more motorcycles to transport mobile defibrillators and more ambulance crews trained in treating heart patients on the way to hospitals. According to Kremastinos, such measures would result in 2,000 fewer deaths from heart attacks every year in Attica alone.