'Heart attack risk is highest in Gauteng‚ lowest in Limpopo'
Gauteng residents are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack than those living in KwaZulu-Natal‚ and have by far the highest risk overall as a whopping 3‚359 emergency calls for heart-related conditions emanated from this part of the country‚ a study has found.
Despite its reputation for a laid-back lifestyle‚ the picture doesn’t look much rosier for Western Cape residents as about 2‚320 emergency calls were made from this region.
It’s still a code blue situation for Durbanites as 1‚692 calls were recorded in KwaZulu-Natal. The Free State is also not in the clear‚ after clocking 1‚047 emergency calls for possible heart attacks.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in SA‚ after HIV/Aids. Over 78‚000 South Africans die each year from heart disease and there are no signs of a decrease in the foreseeable future‚ said Pharma Dynamics‚ a provider of generic cardiovascular medication.
"It’s well known that SA has one of the highest rates of obesity‚ smoking and drinking in the world‚ which are all major contributing factors of cardiovascular disease‚ but interestingly‚ the incidence of heart disease also tends to vary based on where you live‚" it said in a statement.
The company analysed the number of calls a top emergency response firm - which treats both medical aid and state patients - received for possible heart attacks across the country over a two-year period (May 2014 to April 2016).
Mariska van Aswegen‚ spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics‚ said chronic job stress has a major impact on one’s heart-health and exposes the body to unhealthy‚ persistently elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol‚ which puts additional strain on the heart.
“Studies also link stress to changes in the way blood clots‚ which increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. High levels of stress could also make other risk factors‚ such as cholesterol or hypertension worse.”
According to Pharma Dynamics’ findings‚ overall the most calls originated from the larger metros in the country. Van Aswegen said that in general those living in metropolitan areas struggle with chronic health problems such as high blood pressure‚ cholesterol‚ obesity and diabetes – all precursors for heart disease.
“Residents in the majority of these areas are among the least likely to exercise regularly and smoking rates also tend to be high‚ which further heightens their risk of heart disease. Poor diet is also commonly associated with heart conditions. Unfortunately‚ the demands of a fast-paced urban lifestyle doesn’t leave much room for nutritional meal planning and it’s increasingly putting people into contact with fast-food‚ which often carries a high fat‚ sugar and salt content‚” she said.
Gauteng‚ the Western Cape‚ KwaZulu-Natal had the most emergency calls related to possible heart attacks.
Residents in Mpumalanga seem to have a much lower likelihood of suffering a heart attack based on the 868 emergency calls that were made from the area‚ the study found.
The risk dropped significantly for those in the Eastern Cape where about 552 emergency calls were logged‚ and the Northern Cape where 408 calls were made. The Platinum Belt's residents also seem to struggle with fewer heart-related conditions as a low 384 emergency calls originated from the North West Province.
Residents of Limpopo – the fifth most populated province – are clearly doing something right as only 201 emergency calls were made from this region‚ the study found.