WHO: Israelis Have Among Lowest Death Rates From Heart Problems

A view of the Meuhedet Health Services clinic in Jerusalem. November 17, 2010. Allegations of corruption, nepotism, waste, flagrant mismanagement, bribery, conflict of interest, nonexistent accountability and concealment of documents by senior administrators at Israel’s thirdlargest health fund, Kupat Holim Meuhedet, were disclosed on Monday, 15, Nov, afternoon in a 286-page special report by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. Photo by Kobi Gideon / FLASH90 *** Local Caption *** àéìåñèøöéä äîçùä ÷åôú çåìéí îàåçãú îøôàä øôåàä øôåàé
A Meuchedet Health Services clinic. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Thursday is World Heart Day, in which the importance of heart health is emphasized around the world – and in a study released by the World Health Organization in advance of the event, it turns out that Israelis are among the most heart-healthy people in the world. According to the study, the percentage of deaths from heart disease among Israeli men are lower than any Western country, while the death rate for women is the fourth lowest.

Speaking to Maariv, Professor Ronen Rubinstein, chairman of the Israel Cardiologists Association, said that Israel was able to save the lives of more people suffering from heart conditions than in many other countries, thanks to good technology, a highly-skilled pool of personnel, and ongoing programs to encourage healthier eating and reduce smoking. With that, he said, some 7,000 people in Israel die annually from heart problems. “That is still a very high number,” he said, adding that the goal of doctors is to halve that.

“Heart incidents are the leading cause of death in the Western world, but in Israel cancer is the biggest cause of death, with heart problems in second place,” Rubinstein said. While the odds of dying from heart problems in Israel is among the lowest of any country in the world, the odds of contracting heart disease here is about the same as anywhere else – with those odds skewed by choices of diet, whether or not a person smokes, performs enough exercises or other health issues. Israelis suffer about 20,000 heart attacks a year, 4,500 of them requiring emergency bypass procedures.

“We have reached the maximum in preventing deaths from heart problems using medical technology,” said Rubinstein. “The only way to continue reducing the number of fatalities due to heart problems is to do more preventive work. It makes more sense to prevent heart attacks from happening in the first place than to save people once they have had them,” he added.