Muscat: A quarter of all hospital deaths are caused by heart disease and circulatory problems, according to the Ministry of Health. Lifestyle choices, fatty foods and lack of exercise all mean doctors are reporting more and more residents coming to see them with heart issues, according to medics in Oman.
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The Ministry of Health’s Annual Report for 2016 - released yesterday - exposes the extent of the problem, by revealing that 25 per cent of all deaths in hospital last year were stress related or linked to lifestyle choices. “About 25 per cent of all hospital deaths were due to heart disease and the circulatory system,” the 2016 Annual Report states.
According to the newly released 2017 Statistical Yearbook by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the highest recorded number of deaths in MoH hospitals in 2016 was due to diseases of the circulatory system at 981 cases.
The next biggest killer facing people living in the Sultanate last year, with 13.4 per cent of all deaths, was cancer. Dr. Amro Hassan, an Interventional Consultant Cardiologist at Muscat Private Hospital, said there has been an increase in at-risk heart disease patients.
“Because stress can release hormones in the body, this may cause effects on coronary arteries. The heart may also cause high blood pressure and this is a reason why controlling stress levels is very important.
“There has been an increase in patients coming to me suffering from heart issues. My advice is to avoid stress, but if you do find yourself in a stressful situational, then find some sort of stress relief mechanism. Also, contacting a stress physiologist can also be good, as they can provide training for stress relief if the patient cannot deal with it themselves.”
The report states that non-communicable diseases (NCD) are known to require relatively long and expensive treatment periods, so preventive measures such as promoting healthy lifestyles can reduce the burden on the individual and society. Rohil Raghavan, the Medical Director of Burjeel Hospitals, believes that everyone needs to make time to exercise to counteract the effect of stress.
“The amount of stress and the habits associated with stress, such as eating junk food or smoking to cope with it, are major problems. These days, there is so much connectivity that you are never away from work. Even when you are on holiday, you are always connected, and in this respect, I believe innovation has become a bit of a problem.
“Cardiovascular stress is a major problem here. Your heart beats at a certain rate and when you are stressed, it beats at a faster rate. The more stressed you are, the faster the heart beats. All of these problems add up, and this could cause problems such as hypertension and increase in blood pressure. If that goes unchecked, problems such as strokes could occur,” Raghavan said.
Dr. Sathish Veluswamy, Surgeon at Burjeel Hospital, believes that stress is due to competition.
“I think the reason there is so much stress today is because of the competition. We all want to get ahead of everybody else and this takes a toll on our bodies. Life is a lot more stressful now than it previously was, because there are a lot more demands on us these days.
“It is important to therefore have a proper work-life balance. Don’t take your work home with you, and as far as possible, don’t answer any emails once you have finished your work. To counter the effects of stress, people need to work out at the gym, or take up an activity such as yoga,” Dr Veluswamy.
The rates of hypertension in the ministry’s hospitals for the year 2016 were 6 per 10,000 in the population, and 8 per 10,000 for diabetes.
The report points to a steady rise in the incidence of non-communicable diseases, with 44 per cent among outpatients and 40.3 per cent among inpatients. Road accidents are also a major factor in the increasing number of injuries, disabilities and deaths in the Sultanate, according to the report.
“In spite of the decrease in the number of road accidents in 2016, the number of injuries and deaths remains high, with the Ministry of Health receiving 569 “deaths-before-arrival” cases, in addition to the 90 deaths at hospitals with inpatients due to accidents, and deaths due to road accidents formed 8.3% of all deaths recorded by health institutions in the Sultanate,” the report states.
The expansion of health services has led to a steady increase in the use of these services over the years. In 2016, the number of visits to the outpatient clinics increased to 15.6 million.
The average number of visits per person for outpatient visits was 3.5 for the year. Approximately 343 thousand patients were hospitalised under the Ministry of Health, accommodated and treated with an average of 3.3 days of hospital stay and a total occupancy rate of 63.3per cent, according to the report. The report also includes many statistics on the use of health services such as hypnosis, laboratories, radiology, dialysis and other services. The report also revealed the various surgical operations performed in the Ministry of Health.
The total number of surgical operations was 111,313 in 2016, of which 50,883 underwent major surgeries (45.7%), and 60,430 cases underwent minor operations (54.3%). Major surgical operations represent about 115.2 major surgeries per 10,000 in the population.