|Tuesday, 4 August 2009|
Greater knowledge and information can be the key to reducing heart disease in Chile, doctors say, as they kick off a new program to promote good cardiovascular health.
Corazón Día a Día 2009 (“Day-to-Day Heart”), produced by the Chilean Cardiology Foundation and Bayer (one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical drug companies), is part of a greater campaign for health awareness and good cardiovascular living in the month of August.
One aspect of the campaign is the “cardiomóvil,” a mobile laboratory that offers free tests to the public, including tests for cholesterol, weight, and blood pressure, which would be traveling around the city.
Roughly six doctors will be working all month long in a tent set up in Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s central plaza, to do similar tests, also free to the public. The Plaza de Armas facility drew a large crowd on Monday, the program’s opening day.
“It’s important to know about your heart, and I’ve had some symptoms,” Jorge Valdebenito, 53, who had been waiting in line for two hours, told the Santiago Times. “It takes relatively longer to go to a public hospital than to wait here. I haven’t talked to my doctor in a while, so I’m worried. They give you the tests and the results right away here, so I’ll know if I need to go see my doctor soon.”
The organizers saw a turnout of over 9,000 people at the event last year, and were predicting a similar turnout, according to Pablo Vargas, a spokesperson for Santiago’s mayor office.
Heart disease has always been a serious problem in Chile and throughout Latin America. An international study conducted by INTERHEART, led by Dr Fernando Lanas, a professor of medicine at the Universidad de la Frontera in Temuco, showed that Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Guatemala had a higher risk of abdominal obesity, high blood cholesterol, and hypertension than the 46 other countries in the study, all outside of Latin America.
“The results of these two important studies underline the need for major lifestyle and behavioral modification in Latin America if the growing toll of coronary heart disease is to be reversed,” Dr. Sidney Smith Jr., chairman of the World Heart Federation’s Scientific Advisory Board, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study. He strongly encouraged governments to “promote eating habits and lifestyles that will optimize health and nutritional patterns throughout the country.”
“Hopefully,” Smith wrote, “such awareness will lend further support to vitally needed programs to improve the lifestyles contributing to the epidemic of cardiovascular disease.”
By Daniel Zarchy ( firstname.lastname@example.org)