One in four adults in Saudi Arabia is set to have a heart attack over the next 10 years, revealed a research presented at the 26th Annual Conference of the Saudi Heart Association (SHA), held between 13-16 February in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
First author of the study, Dr Muhammad Adil Soofi, said, "The majority of people we studied were between 20 and 40 years old and 26% were at high risk of a heart attack or death from a heart attack in 10 years. Unhealthy lifestyles start at a young age in the Gulf and people reap the consequences early in life."
Researchers investigated the prevalence of risk factors for heart disease in more than 4,900 Saudis living in urban areas, aged 20 years or older, and had no history of heart disease. The Framingham Risk Score was used to determine the risk of heart attack. The researchers found that 25% study participants had diabetes, 34% had hypertension, 25% were smokers, 27% were obese, 86% were not involved in any physical exercise and 19% had dyslipidemia. As a result of the high level of risk factors, 26% of participants were at high risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack within 10 years.
Diabetes had a major impact on this risk assessment. When diabetes was excluded as a risk factor, the proportion of risk of a heart attack or death from a heart attack went down to just over 4%.
Dr Soofi said, "Diabetes doesn't occur in isolation. Diabetic individuals had a significantly increased prevalence of other risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, smoking and dyslipidemia. Diabetes and other risk factors start at an early age in Saudi Arabia. When we looked just at people under the age of 30, we found that 14% were diabetic, 27% were obese, 31% were smokers and 77% were not physically active. So it's a whole package that will lead to heart disease in a decade. Urbanization, lack of education and Westernization could be to blame for the unhealthy lifestyles of young Saudis. They eat more fast food and deep fried items and on top of that do not exercise. Atherosclerosis, obesity and other risk factors set in at a very early stage and ultimately lead to heart attacks and even death at a young age. We need to educate the public on their doorstep. That means using radio, television and the internet to communicate how to eat healthily, exercise and quit smoking. If the situation remains as it is now, today's 30 year old people will be a burden on society rather than active contributors by age 50."