ONE PERSON dies every 15 minutes in Portugal as a result of heart disease, according to the Sociedade Portuguesa de Cardiologia (SPC).
The SPC has been undertaking a nationwide campaign consisting of 5,000 human outlines drawn on pavements, accompanied by the slogan ‘Don’t be the next victim’, representing the number of people admitted to hospital each year with heart problems.
According to the SPC, the causes for most heart diseases are well known: smoking, poor diet rich in fats, high cholesterol, lack of exercise, stress and obesity.
The idea for the campaign came about following the release of an international study concluding that if people worried as much about strokes and heart disease (which is the number one killer in Portugal) as they did about cancer and Aids, there would be fewer deaths.
According to Dr. Daniel Ferreira of the SPC, the main risk factor in Portugal was arterial hypertension (high blood pressure caused by coronary artery disease). “Coronary heart disease is the biggest killer in Portugal with half of the Portuguese suffering from hypertension and not even being aware of it,” he said. “Today, obesity is fast overtaking the levels of tobacco abuse in Portugal as a major risk factor in coronary heart disease.”
Despite the fact that the SPC has carried out a number of campaigns in recent years to alert the population to the problem, one out of three Portuguese remains unconcerned about it.
Fourteen per cent of young Portuguese people aged between 14 and 17 are overweight, while 82 per cent do nothing to reverse the problem.