CVD and obesity in transitional Syria: a perspective from the Middle East
Hani Barakat1, Hanniya Barakat1, Mohamad K Baaj2
1Kalamoon Private University Medical School, Deir Attieh, Syria; 2Aleppo University Medical School, Aleppo, Syria
Purpose: Syria is caught in the middle of a disruptive nutritional transition. Its healthcare system is distracted by challenges and successes in other areas while neglecting to address the onslaught of Syria's cardiovascular disease (CVD) epidemic. Despite the official viewpoint touting improvement in health indicators, current trends jeopardize population health, and several surveys in the Syrian population signal the epidemic spreading far and wide. The goal is to counteract the indifference towards obesity as a threat to Syrian's health, as the country is slowly becoming a leader in CVD mortality globally.
Methods: PubMed, World Health Organization, and official government websites were searched for primary surveys in Syria related to CVD morbidity, mortality, and risk factors. Inclusion criteria ensured that results maximized relevance while producing comparable studies. Statistical analysis was applied to detect the most common risk factor and significant differences in risk factor prevalence and CVD rates.
Results: Obesity remained the prevailing CVD risk factor except in older Syrian men, where smoking and hypertension were more common. CVD mortality was more common in males due to coronary disease, while stroke dominated female mortality. The young workforce is especially impacted, with 50% of CVD mortality occurring before age 65 years and an 81% prevalence of obesity in women over 45 years.
Conclusion: Syria can overcome its slow response to the CVD epidemic and curb further deterioration by reducing obesity and, thus, inheritance and clustering of risk factors. This can be achieved via multilayered awareness and intensive parental and familial involvement. Extinguishing the CVD epidemic is readily achievable as demonstrated in other countries.
Keywords: Syria, CVD, obesity, risk factors
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