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Analysis

Take Care of Your Heart

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 09/29/2020 - 16:40

In Mexico, 20 percent of the deaths registered were caused by heart disease. Sept. 29 marks World Heart Day. This day was chosen to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as heart disease and strokes, which are the leading cause of death globally, taking the lives of 17.9 million people per year.

World Heart Day also promotes risks factors that increase the probability of developing a heart disease, such as the use of tobacco, unhealthy diets, alcohol and lack of physical activity. Chronic disease patients are more vulnerable to suffer from severe cases of COVID-19, so the spotlight has been pointing to better health habits.

The last figures from Mexico regarding CVD showed that:

  • 17 percent of the population are active smokers.
  • 7.2L of pure alcohol are consumed per person on a yearly average.
  • 22.8 percent of people have hypertension, which can increase the risk of heart failure, kidney disease or strokes.
  • More than 1 in 3 adults (32.1 percent) in Mexico are obese.
  • In 2014, almost a third of women (32.7 percent) were classified as obese. Obesity is the most common cardiovascular risk factor among women.

Due to the high incidence of death related to CVD in Mexico, the National Institute of Cardiology (INC) has worked on creating strategies to prevent ailments like coronary artery obstruction, as this is the cause driving the Mexican mortality rate. “Our initial job was to improve education among primary-care doctors, which led us to develop a program to train primary and secondary-care doctors in diagnosing myocardial infarction, using electrocardiograms and troponins,” explained Mauricio Gaspar, Director General of INC, during an interview with MBN. According to Gaspar, the program also ensures efficiency of diagnosis and prescription of medicines that can undo the obstructing clot, as well as cardiac catheterization to mechanically relieve the obstruction. Gaspar explained that obesity is also behind this high death rate, so he suggested to change this by promoting a preventive healthcare culture based on nutrition and exercise.

Regarding CVD, Mexico has a very shaped epidemiological map. Gaspar explained that the north and the south region of the country are significantly different. “The north has a prevalence of arterial hypertension and myocardial infarction. The average national prevalence of arterial hypertension is 27 percent of the entire population but in the northern states the number exceeds 35 percent, while in the south it is below 20 percent.” Genetic factors also influence these results. “The south has a higher rate of natives unlike the north where miscegenation is predominant.”

MBN had an interview with Roberto Martínez, Director General of the OECD for Mexico and Latin America, and he explained that heart diseases are one of the largest areas of opportunity for Mexico. “The country needs better healthcare services. Poor-quality care is reflected in the country having the lowest survival rate after acute myocardial infarction. This result is linked to poor-quality care given to a patient after having a heart attack. It is the same for ischemic strokes.”

Jaime Cervantes, Propietary Board Member of Vitalmex, told MBN that despite Mexico’s concerning figures on CVD deaths, the country still has a deficit in a variety of specialized areas, such as neurology and cardiology. “Salaries need to go up and there need to be more centers with the capacity to perform heart surgery as well as corresponding schools to train specialists,” said Cervantes.

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Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst