Curfews, poor diet spiked heart diseases during pandemic

October 2021 theStandard ;The impact of Covid-19 on lifestyles has rapidly scaled up cases of cardiovascular diseases and deaths in Kenya, experts have warned.

Young people are particularly worse off due to poor dietary choices and limited access to health facilities due to movement restrictions.

Speaking during the World Heart Day celebrations and unveiling of a state of the art cardiac surgery centre at Mediheal Hospital in Parklands, Nairobi, Mediheal Group chair, Dr Swarrup Mishra said “incidences of cardiac diseases, prevalence and incident is increasing day by day; both emergency and elective surgeries would be needed more to solve these issues which have seen a sharp increase during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Visiting cardiologist Dr Sumit Modi noted that studies have linked rising cases of cardiovascular diseases during Covid-19 pandemic and “taking care of the heart is more important than ever today.”

Dr Modi is leading a team of 15 experts from India and will be “offering advanced treatment options that range from complex cardiac surgeries to minimally invasive procedures to robotic-assisted procedures” at the Cardiac Surgery Centre.

Cardiovascular diseases are responsible for much of the non-communicable disease (NCD) burden in the country and Dr Mishra, also the Kesses Member of Parliament, noted that the prevalence of cardiac and cancer will rise by an estimated 56 to 60 per cent by 2030 and preparedness will be vital in tackling cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Mishra, a former vice-chair of the National assembly Committee on Health, added that “when diagnosis is not correctly done we would not properly address the incidences of disease processes; heart and cancer pose the main challenge.”

According to the National STEPwise Survey for NCDs in 2015, more than half – 56 per cent – of the adult population has never had their blood pressure taken, yet almost one in every four Kenyans has hypertension with a quarter of them on medication-but over 90 per cent have not attained control of high blood pressure.

The Cardiac Surgery Centre, noted Dr Mishra will help ease the burden of Kenyans travelling for cardiac diagnostics and costly surgeries to India, South Africa, USA and Europe as there are now specialists in neurosurgery, replacement, spine surgery, reconstruction surgery, kidney transplant surgery “and we are going to start liver transplant as well.” 

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