Released Friday, the World Heart Federation’s Global Cardiovascular Disease Atlas shows South Africans’ changing diet, which includes more fat, sugar and salt as well as less fruits and vegetables. is behind rising cardiovascular disease rates.
“South Africa is a country in transition with changing social, political and economic factors that have contributed to increased urbanisation and changes in health and dietary behaviours,” says the South African Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Jessica Bacon.
”South Africans generally have a high salt intake that is more than double the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of no more than 5g per day,” she tells Health-e. “This this is putting people at risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.”
Obesity is also a problem in South Africa, says Bacon, who adds that two-thirds of South African women are obese as are almost a quarter of the country’s children.
Unhealthy diets and lack of exercise also mean that South Africa has the world’s highest rate of high blood pressure among people over the age of 50 years old, according to Bacon.
The report also noted that other sub-Saharan African countries were seeing similar rises in cardiovascular disease, in particular strokes. About half of all strokes are caused by high blood pressure and strokes are responsible for more than half of all death and disability related to cardiovascular disease in sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile wealthy countries are showing gradual declines in cardiovascular diseases with Norway, Ireland, the UK, and Israel almost halving cardiovascular disease rates in recent years. This is most likely due to a combination of factors including lower rates of tobacco use and some changes in diet and lifestyle, according to the report. – Health-e News Service.