Heart Health

Updated 28 September 2016

Heart disease: shocking facts

Right now, the total direct and indirect costs related to death and disability from heart disease and stroke in this country exceed a whopping R8 billion per year.

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Right now, the total direct and indirect costs related to death and disability from heart disease and stroke in this country exceed a whopping R8 billion per year.

Heart attacks and stroke are particularly tragic as they often strike down the victim in their productive years of life, removing the breadwinner from families,” says Professor Anthony Mbewu, President of the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Visiting Professor of Cardiology and Internal Medicine at the University of Cape Town.

“When non-fatal, [heart attacks and stroke] often result in severe disability and consequent impoverishment for entire families,” Mbewu says, adding that up to 80% of incidents can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This includes following a healthy diet, exercising and not smoking.

A hot-off-the-press report, commissioned by The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA and released by the MRC, reveals the following shock statistics for South Africa:

  • Between 1997 and 2004, 195 people died every day from some form of cardiovascular disease.
  • Every day, about 33 people die from a heart attack.
  • Two men die for every woman who dies of a heart attack.
  • About 60 people die every day from stroke.
  • About 37 people die every day from heart failure.
  • Despite the high rates of HIV/Aids-related deaths in South Africa, actuarial projections suggest that chronic disease, including heart disease, is also going to increase by 2010.
  • More than half the deaths due to chronic disease, including heart disease, occur before the age of 65 years. These are premature deaths that affect the workforce in the country and have a major impact on the economy of the country.
  • Premature deaths due to heart and blood-vessel diseases in people of working age (35 - 64 years) are expected to increase by 41% between 2007 and 2030. The negative economic impact of this will be enormous.
  • The highest rates of heart and blood-vessel disease in South Africa are found in the Indian community, followed by the coloured community, with the white and black community having the lowest and most similar rates.
  • Although the white and black population has similar rates of disease, the pattern differs dramatically. The white population predominantly has a pattern of deaths due to heart attacks, while the black population predominantly has a pattern of deaths due to stroke, heart muscle disease and heart disease due to high blood pressure.

(Marion Scher, Heart and Stroke Foundation of SA, September 2007)

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