Dubai: Heart disease and high blood pressure continue to be on the rise in UAE, according to the results of a 2019 wellness survey.

The annual 2019 worldwide 360 Well-being Survey conducted by Cigna Corporation, a global health service company covered 13,200 respondents in 22 countries. In the UAE it covered a diverse group of 507 representatives of the population and the results revealed several key health indicators that stress on the importance of Workplace Wellness Programmes (WWP) for preventive health care and awareness.

Presenting the results of the survey, Jerome Droesch, CEO of Cigna (MENA), said: “The survey was based on five parameters of wellness — physical, social, family, financial and workplace health. He added that the results were more like Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that the community could use to create greater awareness and help companies adopt Work Place Wellness Programmes (WWPs) to benefit the sandwich generation between 35-49 years. Sixty two per cent of the people fall in the bracket and have to care for young ones as well as aging parents and have greater financial and work place pressure plus time crunch to make allowance for health and wellness.”

Quoting figures from Dubai Statistics Centre, Dr Mohammad Farghaly, consultant at Dubai Health Care Insurance Corporation (DHIC) under Dubai Health Authority (DHA), said: “Nearly 30 per cent of the UAE population suffers from heart disease which has emerged as a major killer, 32 per cent people suffer from high blood pressure with high stress being a major contributor. In order to improve the high rate of cardiovascular disease, a host of issues such as high incidence of hypertension, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), obesity and diabetes need to be addressed. Out of the total of 8,760 hours in a year, only two hours were spent with the doctor. The health care expenditure per person is very high. For instance $3,600 [Dh13,221] is spent per person in the UAE on obesity alone.”

Dr Saleh Al Hashimi, director of DHIC, recommended small tweaks to overall health and wellness programmes for employees. ”Inexpensive programmes such as yoga and smoke cessation will not cost the HR too much but actually contribute to overall savings when buying group insurance policies.”

Highlights of the survey

■ 32 per cent believe that high blood pressure is not curable with lifestyle changes

■ 22 per cent face unimaginable levels of stress at workplace

■ 91 per cent report stress

■ 96 per cent perceive negative impact of colleague’s stress

■ 28 per cent use wearable technology for heart health

■ 43 per cent claim their companies have formal workplace wellness programme

■ 78 per cent women feel wellness programmes at workplace need to address gender access