Doha, Asharq Al-Awsat – World renowned heart surgeon, Sir Magdi Yacoub told Asharq Al-Awsat that people in the Gulf region and Middle East suffer from different types of heart disease, caused either by the environment or genetic heart defects. He said that heart disease in the Middle East differs in its diagnosis from heart disease diagnosed elsewhere.
Dr. Yacoub, who was attending the Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum in Doha, revealed that 50 percent of heart disease diagnosed in the Middle East is avoidable and due to poor diet and lifestyle, and also connected to genetic predisposition.
Sir Magdi Yacoub is Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London. He is also the founder and director of the Harefield Hearts Science Centre (also known as the Magdi Yacoub Institute). He is also the chairman and founder of the Qatar Cardiovascular Research Center in partnership with the Qatar Foundation which is a non-profit organization that aims to create an international network of cardiovascular disease research and translation.
Dr. Yacoub said that cardiovascular disease – which is one of the leading causes of death globally – has a particularly high diagnosis rate in the Middle East. He said that we need to document and study reliable clinical, epidemical, and genetic data about heart disease in the Middle East in order to understand its causes, and how to prevent this. He added that this requires the presence of a Cardiovascular Research Center equipped with the latest technology.
The Qatar Cardiovascular Research Center is built on the expertise of the Qatar Foundation’s medical partners including the Hamad Medical Corporation, QAL [Qatar-Aswan-London] Advanced Cardiovascular Network, and Weil Cornel Medical College in Qatar. Dr. Yacoub said that the partnership between the Qatar Foundation, the Hamad Medical Corporation, and the QAL Advanced Cardiovascular Network, is working to reduce cardiovascular disease worldwide via a research program.
Dr. Yacoub established the Aswan Heart Center in Egypt to help research heart disease; this center includes expansive integrated medical facilities which provide medical and humanitarian services to those in need in collaboration with domestic and international non-profit organizations.
Dr. Yacoub also said that he is looking forward to twinning the Aswan Heart Center with its Qatari counterpart; announcing that a large international conference on heart disease will be held in Cairo between 3 – 6 January 2011 which will be attended by doctors and researchers from all over the world.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 17 million people a year die from cardiovascular diseases; the majority of whom are children. The organization presented considerable evidence that cardiovascular disease is a major problem in both the third world, as well as the developed world.
Dr. Yacoub called for awareness to be raised of the dangers of heart disease, and cardiovascular research to be backed with much-needed financing.
He also said that “I would like to see a scientific boom, and awareness being raised in the Arab world, to the importance of scientific development. Therefore what we need now is young men and women to enter scientific fields, for we will rely upon this science in the future.”