Sat, Oct 06, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Weather shifts pose danger to chronic disease sufferers

By Wu Liang-yi  /  Staff reporter

People with chronic diseases should watch out for drastic changes in the weather, given that heart disease, strokes and diabetes claim more than 50,000 lives every year in Taiwan, which is more than cancer, health experts said.

Cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of 17.9 million people worldwide per year — accounting for 31 percent of global deaths, according to the WHO, which has called for accelerated action to prevent such deaths.

In Taiwan, government data showed that heart diseases were the second-most common cause of death last year, accounting for 20,644 lives, or an average of one life every 26 minutes.

Along with other vascular diseases, such as strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases kill 53,697 people annually, more than the 48,037 deaths caused by cancer, which tops the list of the top 10 causes of death in Taiwan.

Recent studies have indicated the cholesterol concentrations in Taiwanese are increasing to levels nearly as high as those of Americans and Europeans, and that Taiwanese are eating more red meat and fat than Westerners, Taiwan Heart Foundation executive director Hwang Juey-jen (黃瑞仁) said.

As Asians’ ability to metabolize glucose is poor, the Westernization of their diets is resulting in a rising number of people developing diabetes, which can cause complications such as heart attacks, Ischemic strokes, lower extremity arterial disease, kidney disease, retinopathy and neuropathy, he said.

Drastic temperature changes can trigger heart attacks, he said.

While chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack, other symptoms include panting, sweating, feeling dizzy and abdominal pain, he said.

Men older than 45 and women older than 55, or those who have entered menopause, are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, as well as people who have a family history of the disease, smokers, and those who rarely exercise or who are obese, Health Promotion Administration Director-General Wang Ying-wei (王英偉) said.

The agency has four suggestions for people who fall into the above groups: adopt high-fiber, reduced oil and salt diets and eat more steamed, cooked and boiled foods; do moderate-intensity exercise for 150 minutes per week; stop smoking or avoid secondhand smoke; and have regular physical checks to monitor blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as body mass index.

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