By Hamed mahmoud
Novartis Egypt launched an awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of living with elevated blood cholesterol levels – hypercholesterolemia – in partnership with the Egyptian Association of Vascular Biology and Research (EAVA), the Egyptian Society of Cardiology (EgSc) and the Cardiovascular Research, Education & Prevention foundation (CVREP). The campaign raises awareness of the risks and complications of high blood cholesterol levels, especially low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, and encourages testing and greater treatment adherence.
Annually, cardiovascular disease kills more than 18 million globally. This figure is expected to reach over 24 million by 2030. There is a well-established link between atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD) and elevated LDL-C levels5. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Egypt 46% of all deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease – well above the global average. This highlights the urgent need for intervention.
“Atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases place a major burden on our healthcare systems. The long-term impact of these diseases can be damaging to patients, families and the wider society and often lead to premature mortality. Ischemic heart disease is already the leading cause of death in Egypt,” Prof. Mohamed Ossama, Head of the National Heart Institute, said, “We need to act now, if we are to address these mounting challenges.”
In addition to Egypt’s high incidence rates, early atherosclerotic cardiovascular events in the country occur on average 12 years earlier than those presenting in European patients.
“According to research, 37% of Egyptians have elevated LDL-C levels. High cholesterol and elevated LDL-C are silent killers that often go unnoticed and untreated,” Prof Ossama added.
“We are considerably behind on LDL-C targets and according to the Centralized Pan-Middle East Survey on the Under-Treatment of Hypercholesterolemia, Cepheus II, only 10.7% of very high-risk patients achieve these goals.” Prof. Ashraf Reda, Head of EAVA, explained.
Today, it is becoming easier to lower and manage cholesterol levels, thanks to emerging therapies. “New therapeutic agents with lower administration frequency can keep or bring LDL-C levels under control, enabling perfect to near perfect adherence,” Prof. Mohamed Sobhy, Head of the CVREP and Regional Governor of the American Heart Association in Middle East and Africa, said.
“In-light of the urgent need to protect Egyptians against the risks of CVD, we are proud to launch this campaign, raising awareness of the very serious dangers of high LDL-C levels. By encouraging wider testing, we can reduce the incidence of CVD – potentially improving and saving lives. The campaign also empowers patients to take responsibility for their well-being. Only 40% of cholesterol patients comply with their treatment regimens during the first yea5. Educating patients on the importance of therapy adherence and providing support can dramatically improve patient outcomes,” explained Dr Gehan Ramadan, Chief Scientific Officer at Novartis Egypt.
Talking about their collaboration with Novartis, Prof. Hesham Salah, Professor of Cardiology at Cairo University and Head of the Working Group of Dyslipidemia in Egyptian Society of Cardiology (WGDA), said: “We have a responsibility to improve physician and patient awareness, and to help implement guidelines that can protect the hearts and lives of Egyptians. By doing so, we can reduce the exceptionally high rates of cardiovascular diseases across the country.”
“There is a well-established correlation between high LDL-C levels and cardiac events, with a 22% cut in risk for every 40 mg/dL reduction in LDL-C levels. It is therefore absolutely essential that patients carefully monitor their cholesterol levels and important for the public in general to undergo regular check-ups. In addition to that, research has shown that three out of four recurrent cardiovascular events are preventable, so as healthcare practitioners we must support our patients and the public to help them avoid recurrence,” Prof. Salah added.