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Heart Expert Recommends Mandatory Screenings for 18-year-old Mexicans

Update Date: Nov 23, 2013 11:07 AM EST

During the 2013 Mexican Congress of Cardiology meeting, which takes place between Nov. 23 and Nov. 27 at Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, experts gathered to discuss cardiovascular risk factors and diseases. According to thee experts, cardiovascular diseases have been plaguing the nation, contributing to the relatively high mortality rates. Due to this epidemic, a cardiovascular disease expert is recommending that all 18-year-old Mexicans get mandatory screenings.

"I have proposed to the Mexican government that 18-year-olds should have obligatory measurements of glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI), with repeat assessment every three years. Screening could be done in schools, shopping centers and other public places and if an abnormality is found a strategy should be in place to treat it. This would be easy and inexpensive and I am waiting for the government's response," stated Dr. Enrique C. Morales Villegas, the director of the Cardiometabolic Research Center in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Villegas stressed the importance of getting screen since Mexicans lead a very unhealthy lifestyle. Villegas stated that the foods in Mexico are considerably worst than some fast food chains. Along with the unhealthy foods, the Mexican's active lifestyle is almost nonexistent. With these two contributing factors, obesity rates have soared in the country leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular complications, when then increase the nation's mortality rates.

"People eat too much and everyday they watch 4 hours of TV, spend 2 hours at the computer and do less than 10 minutes of physical activity," Villegas added according to Medical Xpress. "This combination of poor diet and sedentary lifestyles is the main cause of Mexico's obesity epidemic. Obesity is not just an aesthetic problem, it's a profound health problem and the consequences are diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia (high blood lipids) - all known as cardiometabolic risk factors."

Background information provided by the report stated that from 2009 to 2010, the mortality rate tied to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes increased by 9.5 percent going from 189,000 to 207,000. The most recent Mexican national survey of health and nutrition found that 73 percent of women, 69 percent of men and 35 percent of children are either overweight or obese. The high rates of obesity contribute to many debilitating health issues. In order to detect heart disease before it kills, Villegas is recommending that the country enforce mandatory screenings.

"In addition to the high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in Mexico we have low detection. Just 50% of people with diabetes, hypertension or hypercholesterolemia know they have it. Of those who do know, only 50% receive treatment. And of those treated, just 50% reach the treatment goals in the ESC Clinical Practice Guidelines on diabetes, (2) hypertension (3) and hypercholesterolemia. (4) At the end of the day just 12.5% of people with one cardiovascular risk factor have it detected, treated and controlled," Villegas said.

Villegas hopes that if there are mandatory screenings for adults, more lives could be saved.

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