By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Nearly 85 percent of all adult deaths in Mexico are the result of non-transmittable chronic diseases, and over half of those deaths are due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to internist Guillermo Fanghänel Salmón, head of the Hospital Ángeles Mocel’s Clinic for Diabetes and Obesity.
“In total, about 600,000 Mexicans die each year, and more than 30 percent of those deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease, which is the Number One cause of death nationwide,” Fanghänel Salmón said during a heart disease conference organized by Upjohn, the off-patent medical unit of the transnational pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, on Tuesday, Nov.19.
“In Mexico, there is a lot of public awareness about breast cancer, for example, but very little awareness about heart disease. Notwithstanding, for every person who dies of breast cancer in Mexico each year, 22 will die from cardiovascular disease.”
Cardiovascular disease, which can include heart problems and other health conditions related to blood vessels, such as stroke, heart failure, thrombosis and angina, is more common in developing nations than in highly developed ones, explained public health specialist Agustín Lara Esqueda, director general of the Bienestar Inteligente de Todos (a government and private sector program aimed as encourage better lifestyle choices), who also spoke at the conference.
Cardiovascular disease is more common in developing nations than in highly developed ones.
“In most cases, these conditions are preventable or treatable with early diagnosis and proper medical intervention, as well as serious lifestyle changes,” Lara Esqueda said.
“The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) credits diabetes as being the Number One cause of death in Mexico, but they are wrong. CVD is the real culprit. Diabetes is one of the main factors that contribute to CVD.”
And while the disease in Mexico is still more common in men than in women, Lara Esqueda said that there has been a surge in female cases over the last five years.
“We are also seeing a trend for the disease to develop in younger people,” added Josué Issac Elias López, head of the Endo-Cardiograph Clinic of Mexico’s Ignacio Chávez National Institute of Cardiology.
“In fact, according to a study conducted in 2016 (the most recent on the subject), 42 percent of strokes and heart attacks in Mexico happen to patients under age 60.”
According to a study conducted in 2016,42 percent of strokes and heart attacks in Mexico happen to patients under age 60.
Because the average lifespan of a Mexican is about 75 years, Elias López said that these patients are at risk of premature death.
“There are things we can do to reduce our risk – change our dietary habits, engage in more exercise, stop smoking, reduce glucose, cholesterol and hypertension levels, and so on – but getting people to follow these guidelines is not easy. Worldwide, less than 1 percent of the population complies with these guidelines.”
Fanghänel Salmón said that one of the most important steps is being aware of cardiovascular conditions and potential risk factors.
“The problem is that most people in Mexico with CVD conditions are not even aware of the fact that they have the disease,” said Patricia Aline Salomón Molina, Upjohn’s medical director for external affairs in Latin America.
“Their first indication of the disease can come in a stroke or heart attack, which can be fatal or devastating, which is why we need to stop thinking about whether we are at risk based on age and start thinking in terms of our heart’s age.”
The first indication of the disease can come in a stroke or heart attack, which can be fatal or devastating.
Salomón Molina said that, because of poor lifestyle choices, a large percentage of Mexicans are at risk due to questionable lifestyles.
“Seven in every 10 adult Mexicans is obese or severely overweight,” she said. “Three in every 10 has hypertension – and about 30 percent of those aren’t even aware of their condition.”
Salomón Molina went on to note that four in every 10 Mexicans has high blood pressure (72 percent of whom do not know they have the condition) and 1.5 in every 10 Mexicans has diabetes, half of whom have not been diagnosed.
Fanghänel Salmón pointed out that cardiovascular disease does not discriminate based on income or social status.
“It is common both in urban and rural areas,” he said. “Anyone can be vulnerable.”
“The important thing to remember is that CVD can be controlled and managed if detected early and if treated with appropriate medical care,” said Elias López.
“The first step is to see your doctor and have him or her analyze your risk. And then from there, you can make a big difference in your own health by following your doctor’s orders and monitoring your lifestyle choices.”