Health Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said previously patients in need of cardiology services were sent to Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

“Now a state-of-the-art cardiology laboratory was opened with high standard equipment and a specialist doctor in a facility which has cost the department R28-million,” Kupelo said.

“We are proud to say that specialised cardiology services are now offered in the province and that will save a lot of money in the long run as we no longer transfer our patients to other provinces.”

Patients that benefit from the new services include patients from O.R Tambo, Alfred Nzo, Chris Hani and Amathole districts – which means it’s about half of the province,” Kupelo said.

Biggest killers

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, heart diseases and strokes are South Africa’s biggest killers after HIV/AIDS.

In South Africa more people die of cardiovascular diseases than of all the cancers combined, cardiovascular disease is responsible for almost 1 in 6  deaths and 215 people die every day from heart diseases.

It is estimated that every hour in South Africa five people have heart attacks, 10 people have strokes and of those events, 10 people will actually die as a direct result.

Dana Govender, health promotions manager of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, said there should be effective practices to detect early and treat cardiovascular diseases.

“Hospitals must be able to deliver better and equitable care to patients to control chronic conditions.”

An edited version of this story was published by Health24.