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Shock statistics on heart disease and stroke in South Africa

Experts estimate the total direct and indirect costs of death and disability from heart disease and stroke to exceed R8 billion a year, says Marion Scher
According to Professor Anthony Mbewu, President of the Medical Research Council and Visiting Professor of Cardiology and Internal Medicine at the University of Cape Town, “Heart attacks and stroke are particularly tragic as they often strike down the victim in their productive years of life, removing the breadwinner from families.

“When nonfatal they often result in severe disability and consequent impoverishment for entire families. The total direct and indirect costs of death and disability from heart disease and stroke, are more than R8 billion per annum.

“Up to 80% of heart disease and stroke could be prevented by setting up healthy habits for life with a good diet, exercise and avoiding smoking.”

A report released this month, entitled ‘Heart Disease in South Africa', based on research carried out on heart disease in South Africa, revealed shocking statistics requiring urgent intervention.

Commissioned by The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA) and released by the Medical Research Council (MRC), this report was authored by Prof Krisela Steyn from UCT Department of Medicine.

The report revealed the following:
• Between 1997 – 2004 in South Africa, 195 people a day died due to some form of heart and blood vessel disease (cardiovascular disease).
• About 33 people a day die due to heart attacks.
• Two men die for every woman who dies of a heart attack.
• About 60 people a day die due to strokes.
• About 37 people a day die due to heart failure.
• Despite the high rates of AIDS deaths in South Africa actuarial projections suggest that chronic disease, including heart disease is also going to increase by 2010.
• More than half the deaths due to chronic disease, including heart disease, occur before the age of 65 years. These are premature deaths that affect the workforce in the country and have a major impact on the economy of the country.
• Premature deaths due to heart and blood vessel diseases in people of working age (35 – 64 years) are expected to increase by 41% between 2007 – 2030. The negative economic impact of this will be enormous.
• The highest rates of heart and blood vessel disease in South Africa are found in the Indian community, followed by the coloured community with the white and black community having the lowest and most similar rates.
• Although the white and black population has similar rates of disease the pattern differs dramatically. The white population predominantly has a pattern of deaths due to heart attacks, while the black population predominantly has a pattern of deaths due to stroke, heart muscle disease and heart disease due to high blood pressure.

Editorial contact
Jozi Donjeany, Simeka TWS Communications
Tel: (031) 2039800
Cell: 076 153 8286

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