Dubai: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death in the UAE and, on the occasion of World Heart Day on Tuesday, doctors from around the UAE are holding free heart screenings for UAE residents to create greater awareness of heart health.

Statistics indicate that one in four deaths in the UAE every year occurs due to a condition that falls within the spectrum of heart disease. Cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, hypertension, heart failure, disturbances in the heart and cardiomyopathy are on the rise due to sedentary lifestyles, poor nutrition and obesity. The focus of this year’s World Heart Day is creating heart-healthy environments and ensuring that people are able to make heart-healthy choices wherever they live and work.

Residents can avail of free screening and awareness programmes on preventive heart health being conducted at various locations throughout the UAE.

Rashid Hospital’s cardiology department, in collaboration with Astra Zeneca Gulf, has taken part in an ongoing campaign to minimise heart disease risk which continues until Tuesday with free heart screenings at the hospital.

About 491 workers were screened at a camp held at the Dubai Investment Park labour accommodation. Of these, nearly 75 per cent had high levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, 60 per cent had a body mass index of over 24 indicating obesity, and nine were diabetic without being aware of their condition.

Dr Khalifa Omar Mohammad, senior surgeon of the cardiology department at Rashid Hospital, said: “These are alarming results and indicate that the people screened are at high risk of developing heart conditions such as heart attack or stroke.”

In Abu Dhabi, Medeor 24X7 Hospital initiated free screening all through September and will continue the screening for residents at Yas Mall until Tuesday.

Of the 1,500 people who visited the hospital’s booths at Marina Mall and Mushrif Mall in September for free height, weight, BMI (body mass index), RBS (random blood sugar) and cholesterol screenings so far, almost 50 per cent were overweight and an additional 20 per cent fell into the obese category. These results are quite alarming considering that heart attacks strike 20 years earlier, on average, in the UAE due to the high prevalence of smoking, obesity and lack of exercise.

Zulekha Hospital, Dubai launched a new heart awareness campaign to mark the day providing a range of complimentary services on Tuesday at both Zulekha hospitals in Sharjah and Dubai that include cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar checks as well as BMI scores.

Those who wish to take advantage of the free services should call 06 565 8867 to register; the services are available from 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm. If patient test results indicate potential warning signs in relation to heart disease, a follow up appointment will be arranged with one of the hospital’s cardiologists in order to immediately reduce the risks of developing cardiac-related problems.