Diabetes tops the list of risk factors associated with the increasing incidents of heart attacks and stroke in Qatar, shows a study conducted among Qatari and expatriate patients at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
The study also found that more than two thirds of the heart attack patients and half of the stroke patients in Qatar were younger than 55 years; some were younger than 40.
Men made up the majority of cases. Approximately 40 percent of participants were overweight and an additional 30 percent were obese. The study is presented in an article titled “prevention during the epidemiologic shift to chronic illness: a case-control study of risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease in Qatar,” appearing in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Local and Global Health Perspectives.
The study conducted between 2006 and 2008 was led by public health researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC) in its branches in New York and Qatar, as well as physicians at HMC.
It was supported by Qatar Foundation, the Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Centre and the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Biomathematics Research core of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.
Principal investigator and senior author of the study, Dr Alvin I Mushlin, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Public Health at WCMC in New York City, said: “Cardiovascular diseases have for some time been the leading cause of death worldwide.
“But high income countries in the Gulf have experienced a dramatic increase in cardiovascular disease and other non-communicable and chronic diseases, driven in part by major changes in population and lifestyle factors in recent years. Our study tried to estimate the association between five preventable risk factors and the development of heart attack and stroke.”
The five risk factors studied were diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia (high levels of cholesterol and other blood fats), smoking, and obesity.
The study recruited patients admitted to HMC with heart attack or stroke. Cases included nationals and expatriates. Expatriates account for more than 70 percent of the population in Qatar. Thus, the nationals in the study were also studied as a sub-group to determine if they have characteristics related to the development of cardiovascular disease that may distinguish them from others.
“We found that diabetes increased the risk by over four fold and was the strongest preventable risk factor for heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure was the second major preventable risk factor for stroke and an important factor for heart attack. Low amounts of physical activity increased the risk of heart attack and stroke by approximately 80 percent, while smoking increased the risk of heart attack two-fold,” said lead author Dr Paul J Christos, Lecturer in Public Health in the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at WCMC in New York City.
“For the sub-group of Qatari nationals, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking were also identified as potential preventable risk factors. These factors seemed to increase heart attack and stroke risk among the Qataris.”
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