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Jun 20 19, 8:57 am

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by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, Feature

Jun. 20, 19 | 8:57 am

DUBAI: Heart-related illnesses was the top killer of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Dubai and the neighboring Northern Emirates last year, according to data obtained from the Philippine Consulate.

The fact sheet, derived from death certificates submitted to the consulate’s Assistance to Nationals (ATN) section, also showed that brain stroke and brain hemorrhage ranked second.

Noteworthy is that cardiac arrests and brain bleeding were also listed as top causes of OFW deaths in 2017 as reported by The Filipino Times, citing data culled from ATN and published in December for the period covering January to October of that year.

There were 172 OFWs who have died in Dubai and the Northern Emirates last year, according to the ATN fact sheet.

The youngest OFW to die of heart failure was a 26-year-old who succumbed to cardiac respiratory arrest, said the report.

Of the 172 deaths, 81 – or 47% – were due to heart attack and related conditions; while 27 – or about 16% – were brain-related like intracranial hemorrhage, which is bleeding inside the skull; subarachnoid hemorrhage, defined in medical books as a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain and which can be caused by a ruptured aneurysm; and intracerebral hemorrhage, bleeding inside the brain itself.

There was also a case of brain oedema, or the excess accumulation of fluid in some parts of the brain.

Causes

Dr. Natalie Reynes, internal medicine practitioner at Klinika Maharlika, said most deaths from cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are caused by heart attacks and strokes. “Triggering this disease are elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol and glucose, overweight and obesity,” she said.

Dr. Natalie Reynes

Added, Dr. Heide Regudo, general practitioner also at Klinika Maharlika: “Unhealthy Lifestyle is one of the risk factors in developing this condition because it will be blocked with fats, cholesterol and other substances, and will form a plaque in the arteries that supplies the heart. Once blocked, it can be risky and if not managed immediately can lead to death.”

For his part, Dr. David George R. Cheu, general practitioner at NMC Mabuhay Clinic, said the most common symptom of a heart attack, termed in medical jargon as “myocardial infarction” is chest pain or discomfort which feels like “having an elephant resting his foot on it.”

“It is the number one cause of death because of numerous risk factors like increased cholesterol, obesity, smoking and physical inactivity among others,” said Cheu.

Be warned, Cheu said, because “most people are not aware that they have the disease and, usually damage has been done for them to be symptomatic.”

Dr. David Cheu

“The time from symptom to hospital or first aid also plays a vital role when it comes to mortality of those suffering from heart attacks,” Cheu added.

Brain bleed

Regudo meantime explained that brain bleed is caused by the rupture of blood vessels due to longstanding hypertension.

She said OFWs are at risk of intracranial haemorrhage because “being an Asian is one of the risk factors already as it is more common in our ethnicity.”

Regudo further explained: “Due to their busy work schedule, some OFWs even tend not to visit their doctor as instructed even when they already have been experiencing symptoms.”

Dr. Heidi Regudo

She said approximately 10% to 20% of OFWs are hypertensive with high cholesterols who don’t regularly follow up with their physician even when they are already due for reassessment.

Stress

The specialists, explaining why heart- and brain-related medical conditions top the causes of deaths among OFWs, narrowed the answer down to one word: “stress.”

They added that heart attacks and brain bleeds are results of various medical conditions.

“OFWs…experience overwhelming stress and this may contribute to developing brain bleed and other cardiovascular diseases. Stress may affect behaviors and habits that increase these risk factors: high blood pressure, overeating, alcohol consumption, smoking and physical inactivity, a very unhealthy way of managing stress.”

Added Cheu: “Brain bleed or brain hemorrhage is, as its name suggests, bleeding in or around the brain. There are several causes of hemorrhage like aneurysm, high blood pressure, substance abuse or head trauma.”

Cheu said it could be that OFWs who succumbed to brain bleed had not been diagnosed with hypertension.

“Hypertension is known as the silent killer due to the fact that it is mostly asymptomatic (no symptoms) and one of its cause of mortality is cerobro-vascular accident (CVA), one aspect of which is hemorrhage,” Cheu said.

2017 picture

Cardiac arrest and brain bleeds were also the top OFW killers in 2017.

Data obtained from Vice Consul Marianne Bringas revealed that there were 68 cases of cardiac or pulmonary arrest listed as cause of death from January to October of that year – 44.15% of the total 154 deaths for the same period.

“Yan yung mga death certificates na dinadala sa amin dito,” she said. “Some of them, we arranged for shipping,” Bringas added.

Vice Consul Marianne Bringas

Eleven Filipinos died of cardiac or pulmonary arrest in January, 6 in February, 4 in March, another 6 in April, 5 in May and 4 in June. There were 9 deaths due to cardio or pulmonary arrest in July, 10 in August, 3 in September and another 10 in October.

Brain hemorrhage accounted for 30 of the deaths – or 19.48%, with OFWs dying almost every month, ATN records also showed.

There was one OFW who died of brain hemorrhage in January, 3 in February, 6 in March, 7 in April, and 3 in May. Two OFWs died in July, another two in August, 4 in September and two in October.

The 11-point OFW checklist to keep heart attacks and brain hemorrhage away

By Dr. Wendy Paz
General Practitioner at Klinika Maharlika

The best way to prevent and not succumb to these causes of acute deaths (heart attack, brain hemorrhage) is to have a healthy lifestyle, which can be measured by the following course of action:

1. Stop smoking or using other forms of tobacco. If you do not smoke, do not start.

2. Eat a wide variety of foods in the right proportions to achieve and maintain healthy body weight.

3. Get plenty of exercise and use every opportunity to be active.

4. Get plenty of good quality sleep by sleeping at least 85% of the total time in bed, falling asleep in 30 minutes, waking no more than once per night.

5. Keep diabetes in control. Regularly check your levels and be evaluated by your attending physician voluntarily.

6. Keep alcohol intake down by not drinking longer than an hour or two on occasions, not drinking faster than one drink per half-hour, not exceeding the BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) moderate drinking limit, and considering an occasional drink to be small, though enjoyable, part of life.

7. Maintain blood cholesterol at optimum levels by keeping HDL (good cholesterol) high and keeping LDL (bad cholesterol) & triglycerides within normal levels.

8. Keep blood pressure at a safe level. Understand your pressure numbers if under normal, elevated, stage 1, stage 2, hypertensive crisis by visiting your doctor.

9. Maintain a healthy body weight in relation to your height. Compute for your BMI (Body Mass Index).

10. Avoid stress where possible by identifying stressors and learning to develop coping skills over them.

11. Learn how to manage stress by reducing the demands on yourself, ensuring that you get enough fun out of life, practice positive thinking, manage your time wisely, learn to relax your mind, body & spirit consciously, and seek support from others.

Dr. Wendy Paz

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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