Dubai: The UAE is worried that younger people are now suffering from heart disease and many do not know of the dangers ticking inside them, senior heart doctors said yesterday.

The findings of a study released yesterday at the Emirates Cardiac Society Congress was “alarming” doctors said, and have called for urgent steps to reverse the trend.

In the study, 4,200 young men and women across the emirates were screened and it was found that 30 per cent of them had high blood pressure.

What is more worrying is that many did not know they are suffering from hypertension, said Dr Nooshin Bazargani, cardiologist from Dubai Hospital, and chair of the Cardio-vascular Prevention Group of the Emirates Cardiac Society.

The study showed that 31 per cent of this sample group had high cholesterol, an equal number were suffering from diabetes and 20 per cent were obese. The cardiologist said the usual suspects for this are fast foods with high levels of salt and sugar and lack of exercise.

The Dubai Heart Centre had earlier pointed out that 40.8 per cent of the UAE adult population, aged between 35 and 70 years, suffers from hypertension.

Dr Bazargani said heart disease generally affects the population after 40 years of age, but here in the UAE it is affecting people 10 years earlier. She said children take up smoking while in school and many are either obese or overweight.

The cardiologist said affordable healthy food should be available for all. She said making drugs affordable is also important. “That will happen when a system of (health) insurance is implemented,” she said. Dubai has still to make health insurance mandatory for everyone in the emirate.

A senior cardiologist reminded that heart disease is the number one killer in the UAE. “Your bad lifestyle is putting a burden on your heart,” said Dr Obaid Al Jasem, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at Dubai Hospital and the Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery Department.

Earlier, road traffic accidents were the cause of the high number of deaths in the emirates. He said this trend is reversible. “Younger people are falling prey to heart disease.”

Eisa Al Maidoor, Director-General of Dubai Health Authority, said the best way to tackle this is prevention. “Our strategy is to help improve the lifestyle of the population”, he said. The director said everyone should take up some sport to lead a healthy lifestyle. “That is my message to the society,”

The director said hospital beds will be increased in Dubai. He said Al Jalila Hospital, will be ready by August. It will have a centre of excellence for heart disease treatment, he said.