Tanzania raises alarm as heart cases rise

DAR ES SALAAM: THE number of cardiovascular patients in the country has increased by 9.4 per cent in the past five years, a situation that calls for routine heart check-ups to detect potential risk factors and prevent several heart conditions.

Minister for Health, Ms Ummy Mwalimu revealed this on Friday during the commemoration of World Heart Day held at Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) Dar Group.

The event was accompanied by provision of education and free heart screening to the public.

Ms Mwalimu said that the number of cardiovascular patients increased from 2.5 million in 2017 to 3.4 million patients in 2022, noting that the number is only for patients who reported to hospitals.

She said that life style, including unhealthy eating, lack of exercises to many adults, excessive drinking of alcohol and smoking are the most common risk factors for most cardiovascular diseases.

“I call upon citizens who have come here for check-ups to observe healthy eating by reducing the amount of sugar, salt and oil in your food, make sure you do physical exercises at least 30 minutes per day and undergo heart checkups to detect potential risk factors,” she said.

Commenting on expenses incurred by the government on cardiac patients, she said that more than 80 per cent of them receive their treatment in the country.

She added, “in every 100 adult Tanzanians, 12 have diabetes and 25 have high blood pressure, and all these two diseases are the causes of most of cardiac diseases, stroke and liver diseases.”

Due to the cost of treating cardiovascular diseases, Ms Mwalimu advised Tanzanians to take necessary precautions to avoid the diseases and the costs that sometimes end up being footed by the government in treatments.

She advised citizens to take part in social and medical activities being held at JKCI Dar Group in order to gain awareness about various heart related complications and take preventive measures.

Speaking on behalf of the JKCI Director, Dr Angela Muhozya who is the Director of Cardiac Surgery at JKCI said that the report shows that every month there is an increase of 25 per cent of heart patients.

“Of the patients who come for heart check-ups, 35 to 50 per cent of them are diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr Muhozya.

She added that the way to avoid such diseases is to change lifestyle, especially the food consumed, engaging in exercises and make routine check-ups to detect risk factors and take preventive measures.

Dr Robert Mvungi, President of Tanzania Cardiac Society (TCS) said that world records show that 20 million people die in the world due to cardiovascular diseases every year.

Dr Mvungi said, “the country records show that people who die from heart diseases are 13 per cent of all the deaths recorded in the country every year and that is a serious problem in the country.”

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