Even as the Ministry of Public Health implements measures to combat chronic non communicable diseases [NCDs], an increasing number of young men are being diagnosed with heart disease. Heart disease is but one of the NCDs that have been plaguing Guyana. Other common NCDs that the health sector has been battling to control are: hypertension, diabetes, cancers and chronic lung disease.
Making reference to the impact of heart disease recently, Interventional Cardiologist at the Caribbean Heart Institute, Dr. Mahendra Carpen, said that in recent times the number of males presenting with heart disease have increased. “I have had patients as young as 28 with heart attacks and as of recent there has been a surge in males in their mid 30s coming with massive heart attacks,” Dr. Carpen shared.
He disclosed that while in the past the disease was seen mainly in the older population, “we are now experiencing more severe heart disease in the under-50 age group too frequently.”
While the risk of heart disease is likely to increase as an individual gets older, especially if they have a family history of the disease, there are some risk factors that can be controlled. Among these are: controlling your blood pressure, keeping your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control, staying at a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, limiting your alcohol intake, avoiding cigarette smoke, ensuring you get enough sleep and if you are diabetic by managing it properly.
Some of the early signs of heart disease may include: nausea, indigestion, heartburn or stomach pain, discomfort in the region of the chest, pain that radiates down the left side of the body, sweating and an irregular heartbeat.
But according to Dr. Carpen some people do not attempt to safeguard themselves simply because they are not aware of the symptoms of heart disease. “Unfortunately, too many patients think that their symptoms are related to gas or something non-cardiac. By the time they reach hospital they would have been three to four days without appropriate treatment,” said Dr. Carpen. In fact he pointed out that misinformation can often scare patients undermine trust and cause more delays which results in dire consequences including death.
Based on the state of heart disease in Guyana, Dr. Carpen is convinced that “the prevalence of heart disease in Guyana is almost at epidemic levels.”