People of south Asian origin are at higher risk of illnesses such as heart attacks, stroke and diabetes.

by LAUREN CODLING

BRITISH ASIANS should “take responsibility for their health”, a medical expert has urged, as it was revealed that deaths related to heart disease are on the rise in the UK.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) unveiled data on Monday (13) showing an increase
in the numbers of people dying from heart conditions since 2014.

According to the charity, 42,384 people died from conditions such as heart attacks and strokes in the UK before the age of 75 in 2017, compared to 41,042 in 2014.

It also revealed that there had been a four per cent increase in fatalities related to heart and circulatory diseases in people under 65, compared with a 19 per cent decline in the previous five years.

In light of the latest figures, Philippa Hobson, a senior cardiac nurse with BHF, said British Asians should monitor their health. Studies have shown that those of a south Asian origin are at an increased risk of developing a coronary heart disease, which could lead to a heart attack.

“In my clinical background, I saw a lot of British Asian patients,” Hobson told Eastern Eye on Tuesday (14). “People of an Asian origin are at higher risk of heart and circulatory diseases, high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure.

“The most recent numbers are high, and we want people to be able to take responsibility for their health.”

During the last five years, there has also been an 18 per cent increase in people being diagnosed with diabetes.

Charity Diabetes UK has estimated that the development of type 2 diabetes is up to six times more likely among south Asians.

Hobson, who has worked as a cardiac nurse for more than 30 years, advised British Asians to see their GP if they have concerns. High blood pressure and diabetes are often symptomless, she explained, so it was vital that people get checked out. She recommended booking an NHS Health Check, a free service that aims to spot early signs of illness. It is said to help prevent diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

“If an individual is found to be at risk of developing (these illnesses), they can get started on medication and have lifestyle and risk factor advice, which if adhered to, can dramatically reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” she said.

Although many who have history of heart problems in their family tend to get themselves
checked, Hobson revealed that many young people did not believe they would be affected, so did not get check-ups.

However, if people addressed their risk factor at a young age, they could reduce their chances of developing health problems in the future, she added.

“We now know heart problems are creeping up on young people, but they tend to
think they are less likely to have these problems,” she said.

Simon Gillespie, the chief executive of BHF, said the charity was “deeply concerned” by the latest statistics. In order to tackle the problem, BHF would like to see the UK increase heart attack survival to 90 per cent by 2030.

“Heart and circulatory diseases remain a leading cause of death in the UK, with millions at risk because of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes,” he said. “We need to work in partnership with governments, the NHS and the medical research community to increase research investment and accelerate innovative approaches to diagnose and support the millions of people at risk of a heart attack or stroke,” Gillespie added.