Heart disease top killer in UAE: study

Cancer, diabetes and traffic accidents are other main causes of death, analysis of new research shows

16:30 March 12, 2018
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Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the UAE, accounting for over two-thirds of all deaths, according to a new study released on Monday in Dubai.

The study confirms earlier reports that have also found heart disease to be the country’s top killer, above other health problems, or accidents.

The latest findings were highlighted in a presentation about the study, called ‘Life expectancy and main causes of mortality in UAE: A systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990 — 2016’.

The UAE study, which formed part of the global study, was co-authored by Professor Samer Hamidi from the School of Health and Environmental Studies at Hamdan Bin Mohammad Smart University (HBMSU).

The global study was published by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington.

Monday’s presentation showed there had been 350,411 cases of cardiovascular disease in the UAE in 2016. The mortality rate had been 340 per 100,000 cases — double the mortality rate in Germany, even though Germany has almost identical prevalence of cardiovascular disease as the UAE.

It means around 36 per cent of all deaths in the UAE are caused by cardiovascular disease, Prof Hamidi told Gulf News after Monday’s presentation, held on the sidelines of the Innovation Arabia 11 conference.

After cardiovascular disease, the other main causes of death in the UAE are cancer, diabetes and traffic accidents.

Meanwhile, life expectancy in the UAE has increased from 64 years in 1971 (when the country was founded) to 76 years in 2016, Monday’s presentation showed.

“Life expectancy is increasing in the UAE, but it is increasing at a decreasing rate,” Prof Hamidi said, adding “there’s no doubt that people are living longer but not necessarily healthier in the UAE.”

He said another study found “the main determinant of disease in the UAE is obesity or [high] Body Mass Index. Obesity brings a lot of diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.” Smoking is also a main factor, he added.

Prof Hamidi said there was a need to curb the “lifestyle” factors leading to the diseases, and called for greater community awareness efforts.

Commenting on the launch of the study, Prof Nabil Baydoun, HBMSU’s vice-chancellor for academic affairs, said: “The scientific study released by the IHME and conducted by [Prof Hamidi] highlights HBMSU’s strategic position composing of pioneers in the modern development of the education sector in the Middle East.”

New agreement

On Monday at the conference, an agreement was also signed between HBMSU and Tsinghua University, Beijing, focusing on two key areas of collaboration, including student exchange programmes related to entrepreneurship and ‘Systematic Innovation’; and faculty exchange in the area of artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.

The agreement was signed by Prof Baydoun and Prof Hsueh-Yung Benjamin Koo, director of International Relations of iCenter-Professor of Tsinghua University.

Dr Mansoor Al Awar, chancellor of HBMSU, said, “This cooperation is also aimed at forging a global strategic partnership in launching a unified model of learning in the world that changes the current educational system to one that meets the requirements of the next phase of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”