Tue, 11 Mar 2003

Cardiovascular illnesses threaten mid-lower classes

Sari P. Setiogi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Generally known as a frequent cause of death for wealthy people, cardiovascular diseases are now afflicting people in the middle- lower income brackets in Jakarta.

"There has been a switch in the economic background of sufferers of cardiovascular diseases. While in the past, most sufferers were from among the rich, during the last few years many are from the middle-lower class," president director of the National Cardiovascular Center at Harapan Kita Hospital Dr. Aulia Sani told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

"People with middle-lower incomes are now easily stressed due to the economic hardships they face. In the meantime, smoking is still a habit for many people," he said on the sidelines of the opening of the National Cardiovascular Center Harapan Kita.

Life was becoming more difficult for middle-lower income people, he said, which led to stressful conditions that could cause cardiovascular diseases.

Aulia said that wealthy patients now only made up the majority of sufferers of heart attacks, or coronaries. "This might be a result of the advanced education they receive on how to lead a healthy life, like quitting smoking, exercising more frequently and having a balanced diet.

"According to a survey held by the Ministry of Health, cardiovascular diseases contribute to about 25 percent of deaths from diseases in Indonesia," he added. This meant that for every four deaths caused by diseases, one was caused by cardiovascular illness.

He also mentioned the results of a survey held in 2002, which revealed that the smoking habit in Jakarta had decreased by 30 percent, from 60 percent to 30 percent. But the number of sufferers from cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol and high blood pressure has increased.

The annual survey, the Monitoring on Determinant Cardiovascular Diseases (Monica), is conducted by the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) at many cardiovascular disease centers located in major cities throughout the world.

In Jakarta, Monica has been conducted for the past 13 years through three subdistricts of South Jakarta: Kebayoran Baru, Mampang and Cilandak.