Heart diseases on the rise despite advances in healthcare, says expert


Saudi Gazette

— Despite the use of advanced technology and medications in healthcare, the number of people suffering from heart diseases are increasing the world over. Saudi Gazette recently met with a renowned cardiologist to get to the bottom of the problem.

Dr. William A. Zoghbi is the Elkins Family Distinguished Chair in Cardiac Health, chair of the Department of Cardiology at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, and professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Institute of Academic Medicine. He was in Riyadh recently to take part in the 29th annual conference of the Saudi Heart Association.

"It is the 9th year I am coming to come to the Kingdom. Our history of collaboration with the Saudi Heart Association goes back to many years. The cooperation between Saudi Heart Association and Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center is dominantly on the advances in treatment and ways of addressing heart and vascular diseases. The cooperation has been formalized over the past years with an agreement between the two organizations in order to further education and exchange of expertise. The partnership allows Saudi doctors to come to Huston for a year or more of highly specialized training in different areas including imaging and intervention," Zoghbi said.

"Many of our faculty come and talk about all areas of cardiovascular diseases from prevention, surgery, and all the catheter-based technology that we have now. I think many of these advanced techniques are currently available in the Kingdom," he added.

There are lots of challenges that face global heart associations and clinics. "We need collaboration not only between heart associations and physicians, but also between the authorities such as the ministries of health to ensure better prevention and advanced treatment awareness for populations. That is always a challenge because populations usually neglect their health issues and their medical history. They do not usually go to the doctor unless their health status gets terribly bad and then it is too late," said the expert.

"The number of people suffering from heart diseases is unfortunately increasing. It is partly because prevention is not as prominent as it should be. Populations are increasing on the one hand, while factors closely related to heart diseases are increasing as well. These include obesity and high cholesterol level. We should take all factors into consideration to find out why heart diseases are increasing worldwide," said Zoghbi.

"The numbers are increasing although medications are getting better and better over time. However, the incidence of heart diseases and deaths from heart diseases are decreasing in the US, conceivably because of greater access to treatment and availability of advanced medications," he said.

He explained that the reasons behind this could be greater awareness among the public about heart diseases and the availability of treatment options.