Over 25 per cent of deaths in the UAE are caused by cardiovascular diseases

Dubai,30th June 2010 A UAE cardiology expert has said that high cholesterol levels are a major cause of heart disease, the No 1 cause of death in the UAE. Over 25 per cent of deaths in the UAE are caused by cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Omar K. Hallak, Board Member, Emirates Cardiac Society and Consultant Interventional Cardiologist/Chief Intervention Cardiology department, American Hospital in Dubai added: “Most patients don’t achieve the desired reduction in their cholesterol levels because they don’t follow the treatment, such as diet and exercise recommendations, despite being treated with cholesterol-lowering medication. Half of patients with high cholesterol don’t achieve results either because the prescribed dose is not enough or the medicine is not the right one.” He added: “Inspite of being on a cholesterol lowering treatment, you might not be at your cholesterol goal, putting you at higher risk of heart disease.” To answer the question of how common it is for patients in the GCC not to reach the desired cholesterol levels, the CEPHEUS study was launched in October of 2009, as collaborative project between the Emirates Cardiac Society and AstraZeneca. A sample of 5,300 patients across the GCC, including 500 from the UAE, was taken.

The last patient of that sample has just been monitored, and the second phase of data analysis is due to start shortly. The results will be collated and published and made available to the public. European data published earlier this year showed that only 50% of patients on cholesterol treatment reached their desired treatment goal.

Dr. Hallak added: “Our patients differ from Western patients in genes, nature of food and way of living. So we cannot apply their statistics here. We need to have our own studies and this is what CEPHEUS is doing.” Dr Hallak added: “This is the first step in enhancing the reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease and improving the quality of cardiac care in the near future, by being well informed. The finding of the study will mirror the real situation in the Gulf.” The problem of hypercholesterolemia management is not restricted to patients who don’t take medications but extends to those who take medications! On the global level, many patients who think that they are safe because of taking medications are actually not. Is the picture different in the GCC? This is what CEPHEUS will unravel.

Dr. Khalid Humaid Al-Rasadi, Consultant Biochemist and lipid specialist at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Oman added: “This study is one of the most important studies in the Arab world. It will give us vital data on how to treat patients. The sample size and reach are excellent. It is the first study that looks into control. Gulf people is a homogenous sample, and they share a way of living, similar food and weather.” Dr. Al- Rasadi added: “This is a very important study thanks to the support of AstraZeneca. We would like to see more collaborative works between drug companies and medical institutions in the future for a better research quality and excellent patient care in the GCC countries. The metabolic syndrome in the GCC countries is around 10-15% higher than in most developed countries, with generally higher prevalence rates for women according to recent systematic review. Hyperlipidimia is an important feature of this syndrome. This has been attributed to physical inactivity, diet quality, lower education and higher incomes. Addressing the modifiable risk factors of the metabolic syndrome on a population basis is a public health priority. Although the CEPHUS study will give us the answer about the cholesterol control in metabolic syndrome, we believe more studies should be conducted in the future to look at the control of other modifiable risk factors like diabetes, hypertension and obesity in the GCC states.” Doctors will be more assertive and precise in treating their patients by referring their cases to the results of the study.

Dr Fadel Shaker, Medical Manager AstraZeneca Gulf said: “The CEPHEUS research project involved monitoring 5,300 patients across the Gulf who are taking lipid lowering medication. It was devised to assess whether their drug regimes are being effective. As the largest such survey in the region to date, the study forms part of a larger, earlier European project that looked at 15,000 patients.
The European study found that poor compliance often resulted when the therapy was frequently changed, or doses increased and one of the conclusions drawn was that patients should be better informed and encouraged to stick firmly to their treatment regime.” It has been proved that a 10 per cent overall reduction in cholesterol levels can cut heart disease by half, with scientists saying that men over 40 years of age (a group that is particularly at risk) only have to reduce their cholesterol levels by 10 per cent to lower their risk of heart disease by 50 per cent.

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