"There are perceptions that men are more susceptible to CVD than women but this is not the case," he said.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Prof Cowie said that lots of young men from the Middle East including Kuwait, Qatar and UAE were developing heart disease. "This is partly because of the genetic make-up and the rest is because of the lifestyle due to which they are less active and consume more calories - basically a combination of genes and unhealthy lifestyle," he said.
He also said that there was a trend of smoking the hookah pipes in the Middle East which led to an increase in CVDs. "This hookah is equal to smoking 100 cigarettes in an hour," he explained.
Smoking thickens the blood and leads to heart failure in the 40s in both sexes. "As age increases, the risk of developing heart disease also goes up. Risk factors are the same for men and women," he said.
The region suffers from a high rate of CVD because of the sedentary lifestyle, said Hassan Al Tamimi, professor at Mohammed Bin Rashid University (MBRU) and Cardiovascular Consultant at Mediclinic, Dubai.
"The rate of diabetes is 40 per cent in the UAE which is a risk factor along with hypertension," he told Khaleej Times. "Even though it is a cosmopolitan population, the rate of diabetes is higher in locals," he said.
He said women were protected by hormones until menopause. "Risk manifestation is later in life for women and men are more prone to heart disease."
He said heart attack in women was different. "It's stereotyped. women feel unwell and short of breath and women who smoke are more at risk," he added.
Cardiovascular diseases accounted for 17.7m deaths in 2015
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. It includes a group of disorders of the heart or blood vessels.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) caused by a build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart and may lead to serious events such as heart attack and stroke. This is the most common type of heart disease and led to 8.8 million deaths worldwide in 2015.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) caused by build-up of plaque in the peripheral arteries which supply blood to the limbs and can lead to gangrene and amputation. If progressed PAD can also lead to complications associated with CAD including heart attack. PAD is estimated to affect over 202 million people worldwide.
CVD accounted for 17.7 million deaths globally in 2015 or the equivalent of the entire population of the Netherlands. If the current rate continues, in 2030 this could be the equivalent of the entire population of Australia.
Contrary to common belief, it affects all ages. For example even for those aged 30-49, ischaemic heart disease is already the second biggest cause of death globally. It is the highest for those aged over 50.
It is more than a patient's health, CVD affects patients' quality of life as well as wider society. The impact on healthcare systems was 111 billion euros in 2017. With those unable to work in Europe due to CVD, 54 billion euros in productivity losses was recorded in 2017. The economic costs of treating and managing patients in europe accounted to 210 billion euros in 2017.
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