An unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle continue to play a role in the growing incidence of cardiovascular diseases in the Middle East region, a certified cardiac and thoracic surgeon at Apollo Hospitals warned recently.
Dr. Sathyaki Nambala, Apollo Hospitals’ Senior Consultant and Chief of Cardiac Surgery, noted that ischemic heart disease is now the number one cause of death in the Middle East. Across the entire Eastern Mediterranean region, meantime, around 54 percent of deaths from non-communicable diseases are due to cardiovascular diseases as per the report of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases is due to a sedentary lifestyle as well as common risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity. The region has higher rates of physical inactivity than in any other regions, while the escalating level of overweight women and children in this part of the world is of particular concern as well.’ Dr. Nambala said.
“In Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, obesity cases, particularly among women, are reported to be over 70 percent. Tobacco use is also rising, with the prevalence of smoking among adult men ranges between 7 percent and 57 percent. As for high blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths, or about 12.8 percent of all deaths in the region,” Dr. Nambala said.
While genetics may play a part, the doctor noted that unhealthy lifestyle change as a result of rapid socio-economic progress is a major contributor. He said that a multipronged approach is required to address and mitigate the growing incidence of cardiovascular diseases across Arab states.
The governments in many Middle Eastern nations have already been ramping up their efforts to encourage members of their local communities to engage in physical activities and lead an active and healthy lifestyle. Campaigns in schools have also been intensified to instill the importance of healthy eating among children.
Amidst the increasing cases of cardiovascular illnesses in the Middle East and the rest of the world, Dr. Nambala shared some of the game-changing advancements in cardiac surgeries.
The advent of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery (MICS), in particular, has revolutionised the way heart surgery is performed, according to him. MICS requires a surgeon to make just one or more incisions between the ribs to reach the heart. It is used for different cardiac procedures including Minimally Invasive Coronary Bypass (MICS CABG) surgery, valve surgery, and closure of septal defects.
Data all over the world have demonstrated that MICS’ success rate is better than the conventional surgeries and there is no age limit for the surgery.
As MICS continued to evolve and expand, the development in tele-manipulation technology and optics fostered the evolution of robotic-assisted cardiac surgery. This represents the latest development in minimally invasive surgical technology.
“Thanks to the advanced techniques, the days of prolonged hospitalisation and longer recovery are now gone. After heart surgery, the hospital stay is just two days. Around 80 percent of patients receive no blood transfusion, which avoids all the complications involved in the blood transfusion. Patients are also walking within 24 hours post-operation and the pain management is simple with just pain killers for relief,” said Dr. Nambala, who has performed more than 8,000 open-heart procedures and more than 2,000 minimally invasive surgeries.
Dr. Nambala said that the growing demand for less invasive procedures has given way to increased development and adoption of robot-assisted cardiac surgery.
The additional benefits offered by robotic surgical systems include greater precision through improved dexterity and degrees of freedom, tremor-free movements, ambidexterity, and superior vision. The ease of doing heart operation also translates to greater safety and better outcomes.
Dr. Nambala, has been instrumental in establishing a full-fledged minimally invasive program and has helped popularised the technique.