Heart-oriented health means more than browsing through your local pet store for a dog harness for evening walks. The heart is a vital organ and needs to be monitored to guard against disease.
Ischemic heart disease has been named as the number 1 cause of death from heart-related problems in South Africa.
This has been confirmed by the following: the University of Pretoria, the South African Institute of Medical Research, and the Medical University of Southern Africa, among others.
This was the result of a study done with experts from Australia on coronary artery disease or CAD. CAD is another name for myocardial ischemia which refers to lack of blood supply to the heart.
Historically, CAD was considered as very rare among black Africans less than 65 years old and the study was to determine the extent of the problem. And the results of their study showed that black South Africans were experiencing higher number of CAD cases than ever before. In fact, heart diseases have now shot up to the number 2 cause of death in South Africa.
CAD in South Africa
The good news for those upper middle class individuals, who can afford that BMX X5 for sale, is that according to a professor from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Dr Karen Sliwa, cases of heart problems are higher among the poorer communities. One of the reasons for this is the frequency of pestilence and famine which bring down the immunity levels and health of these South Africans.
The causes of CAD and other heart-related problems in depressed areas were:
• Lack of medical facilities
• Alcohol consumption
• Infectious underpinnings
Dr Sliwa says that the numbers of deaths from CAD and other heart-related conditions could drop dramatically with an extensive awareness campaign in all parts of the country, as well as an increased budget for research. In fact the first heart-failure society was created in South Africa in 2005, the Heart Failure Society South Africa or HeFSSA. This is a new research-based organization managed and operated by the South African Heart Association.
Western Influence and Rise in Heart Diseases
One of the study results show that hypertension is more common in urban South Africa which is the same in almost all major cities in the world. It is important to note that the cases of high blood pressure in South African cities generally cover all income groups equally.
The reasons for the upper class cases of hypertension are lack of exercise, overeating, obesity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. In the lower income groups, the causes are poor diet and nutrition, lack of healthcare and access to medical treatment, and stress.
In addition, the growth of the urban areas resulted in a change of lifestyle and this brought about the increase in heart-related deaths in the country. One theory that is circulating among the medical community not just in South Africa is the effects of the Western civilization on one’s health. This came about after doctors and researchers discovered that communities with no access to Western influence grew older without experiencing hypertension. These groups are the Italian nuns, the Khoisan nomad hunters, and the tribes from East Africa.
Western Influence and Rise in Diabetes
In the same manner, the cases of diabetes in South Africa has more than doubled from 5% before the influence of Western cultures to 13%, and this figure is expected to double by the time 2025 comes around.
What the Government Has To Start Doing
Experts in research, economics, and health are prodding the government to start doing more immediately. They feel the most urgent needs are:
Sending doctors and nurses with medical equipment to distressed areas
Do something to stop the “brain drain” of trained medical professionals who are leaving the country in droves
Fund more research
Increase the number of medical facilities