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People with heart conditions urged to see doctor

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People with heart conditions urged to see doctor

The number of people with chronic cardiovascular conditions making outpatient visits has dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, posing a risk

  • By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter

The Taiwan Heart Foundation and the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) yesterday urged people with chronic cardiovascular conditions to make regular outpatient visits to avoid the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

Heart disease was the second leading cause of death in Taiwan last year, killing one person every 26 minutes, Ministry of Health and Welfare data showed.

Cerebrovascular stroke, hypertension, diabetes, kidney diseases and vascular disease also cause more than 53,000 deaths each year, the HPA said.

Photo: CNA

Foundation executive director Hwang Juey-jen (黃瑞仁) said that heart disease is often linked to the “three highs” — high blood pressure, high blood lipids and high blood sugar — and people with these chronic conditions and who are taking medication should make regular outpatient visits and should not stop taking their medication on their own.

The risk of heart attack in people with high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high blood lipids are 1.78 times, 1.47 times and 1.43 times of healthy people respectively, the HPA said, citing a 2018 study.

Hwang said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people with chronic cardiovascular conditions have stopped making their regular outpatient visits in the past few months, especially between March and May, and although the number of visits increased in June, it was still about 10 percent less than before.

Without regular follow-up on their conditions or medication, the patients might be at risk of an increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest, he said, adding that the five-year mortality rate in patients with heart failure is about 50 percent.

Studies conducted China, Italy and the US also suggest that COVID-19 patients with the “three highs” or cardiovascular conditions have a higher risk of death, the HPA said.

HPA Director-General Wang Ying-wei (王英偉) said that about 80 percent of premature death from heart disease and stroke can be prevented by practicing healthy habits, such as exercising regularly; avoiding sugary beverages, deep-fried food, smoking and second-hand smoke; and drinking enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

People with chronic cardiovascular conditions should also undergo follow-up exams, control their blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipids based on their doctor’s prescription, and avoid changing the dosage or stop taking the medicine on their own, Wang said.

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