Health experts have warned of increased heart-related diseases among adults and children, urging the public to pay more attention to the heart of their health due to the high and increasing numbers of cardiovascular diseases.
The remarks were made by experts during the activities to mark World Heart Day at the Uganda Media Centre.
World Heart Day is an annual World Heart Federation initiative with a critical role to play in improving global heart health and lowering the global economic burden of cardiovascular disease.
Speaking to the media, the deputy executive director at Uganda Heart Institute, Peter Lwabi, said many patients are dying prematurely.
According to Lwabi cardiovascular disease causes 17.3 million premature deaths globally each year, a figure that is expected to rise to 23 million by 2030.
He said hypertension is the leading cause of death, causing more than 500,000 deaths per year and claiming 10 million lives in the last ten years. It is responsible for half of all strokes and one-third of all heart failure.
“Currently, one out of every four adults in Uganda has high blood pressure. It is also estimated that 1% (16,000) of Uganda’s 1.6 million babies are born with congenital heart disease,” he said.
Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), the most common cause of preventable acquired disease in children and young adults, remains endemic in Uganda, according to experts.
Lwabi said rheumatic heart disease is estimated to affect 300,000 Ugandan school children.
Dr. Jesca Nsungwa, the acting commissioner community health at the Ministry of Health said the Uganda Heart Institute is the only facility offering open heart surgery in the country with a population of 40 million people. Unfortunately, the burden of non-communicable diseases, especially cardiovascular disease is rapidly increasing.
“It’s very important that we do something in safeguarding our hearts to see that we reduce cardiovascular disease. There is a need for joint support from friends and family. We need everyone to be part of this movement,” said Nsungwa.
A variety of factors contribute to heart disease, including smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, as well as air pollution and less common conditions like chagas disease, and cardiac amyloidosis.