Dubai: Keeping the UAE’s National Health Agenda target of reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 15 per cent by 2021, the Dubai Health Authority is hosting the World Cardiology Congress of the World Heart Foundation in December that will see the participation of 11,000 international cardiologists from 34 member countries.

The DHA has won the bid a second time in five years with the previous conference of WHF being held here in 2012.

Humaid Al Qutami, Director-General of DHA, said the conference is a very prestigious honour for Dubai and is being held in collaboration with the Emirates Cardiac Society, Emirates Medical Association and the Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing. “This conference is in line with the strategy of DHA and the Dubai leadership and will cover education, prevention, care and other aspects of heart health and [it will] facilitate the exchange of ideas of latest medical breakthroughs in this field.”

Dr Fahad Baslaib, head of cardiology at the Dubai Hospital, told Gulf News: “Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of mortality in the country with road trauma and cancer deaths being placed second and third. We are working on collecting statistics on it. CVD is an umbrella term that includes many heart conditions. Working with other countries, we have managed to create a Gulf region registry on Myocardial Infarctions (heart attacks), a registry on heart failure and another registry on atrial fibrillation. These registries cover the entire Gulf region but have given us important data on the UAE. For instance, we have learnt that while the average life expectancy in the US and Europe is 65 years, it is 54 in the UAE. There is a lot of work to be done to collate data on cardiovascular health and conferences like this will help create that momentum for this.”

Professor David Wood, president of the WHF, pointed out that the global burden of CVD is very high and the need of the hour is to discuss prevention of primary, secondary and primordial CVD. “More than 17.5 million deaths occur due to CVDs worldwide and 80 per cent of these happen in middle- and low-income countries. According to a World Bank report in 2009, the global cost of CVD was too high as a high rate of mortality was depriving the world of a healthy and robust workforce apart from the millions being spent on health-care funding in all countries. The World Health Organisation has set a target of reducing mortality from CVD by 25 per cent by 2030 and all 34 member countries are party to this resolution.”

He added that the need of the hour is not only to prevent a second heart attack in those who had the disease but prevent the first heart attack by identifying the high-risk groups such as smokers, hypertensive, obese and diabetic patients and screening them in time.

“The third and the most important purpose of the conference would be to look at primordial prevention that goes beyond the cardiologists, nurses and care givers in this field and looks at governments to introduce legislation that would help in reducing CVD incidence. This essentially means educating governments of member countries on motivating all citizens to adopt a healthy lifestyle, bringing in antismoking legislation, make healthy food inexpensive, build more walking and cycling tracks that will have a great impact on cardiovascular health of all residents.”

Dr Baslaib added that Dubai has been very quick in implementing several heart-healthy reforms as it is committed to its goals for 2021. “We passed the legislation banning sale of cigarettes and tobacco to those under 18, we introduced the healthy food initiative for schoolchildren and have started the construction of several walking and cycling tracks in the city. We are trying our best,” he said.