Cardiologist says one out of every five deaths in Malta is caused by eating the wrong food

On Sunday, members of the public were invited to a practical session at the Cardiology Department where the annual conference of the Maltese Heart society was held.

Patients in this unit and the public were given information on how everyone can avoid cholesterol – a condition which can pose the risk of a stroke or a heart attack.

“The most basic way to avoid a heart attack is to do some form of exercise” says cardiologist and cardio rehabilitation specialist Mark Abela.

The narrowing of the arteries due to cholesterol lead to cardiovascular disease which can cause heart attacks and strokes. In Malta between 700 and 800 people are admitted to hospital with heart problems and heart disease remains the most common form of illness.

“Ideally one should do a check up every 6 – 12 months with one’s family doctor for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure. Of course, where there are symptoms, one should always seek help immediately,  because generally speaking, you rarely have a patient who is admitted with a heart attack who has never felt anything. Generally there are symptoms which tend to be vague.”

Cardiologist Robert Xuereb, President of the Maltese Heart Society and Chairman of the Cardiology Department at Mater Dei, told Television Malta that it is worrying that despite the public knowing about the risks of a diet full of fats and sugar, there is still not enough willpower to avoid this.

“As a people we are not taking this important step to try and avoid these deaths. It is becoming clear that one out of every five deaths in our country is the result of the wrong foods that we eat. The evidence shows that every time taxes on cigarettes are increased, there is a decrease in the number of people who smoke, so if we impose a tax on food which is not healthy, especially  fast foods and soft drinks which contain.a lot of sugar, with this money we can subsidise healthy foot such as vegetables, fish and chicken, and we will see people eating less fats and sugary foods, and more people heating healthily. That is why it is important to take steps which might seem aggressive such as taxing this type of food, in order to protect the economy and for our taxes to be used on more sustainable things.”

With statistics which show that Malta has the highest rate of obesity in children, Mr Xuereb recommends that cholesterol should start being tested from the age of 18.

WHO statistics show that one out of every four adults around the world do not do enough exercise and this means that almost 1.5 billion people are at risk of developing or aggravating the conditions linked to a lack of activity.