Bangladeshis are having heart attacks at least 10 years earlier than the typical sufferers of the condition in western countries, according to preliminary findings of BRAVE, the largest study of cardiovascular disease ever held in Bangladesh.
The findings revealed that the average age among Bangladeshis to have heart attacks was 52 years, with approximately 40% of all cases occurring in people aged less than 50 years.
The preliminary findings from the study, titled “Bangladesh Risk of Acute Vascular Events” (BRAVE), were discussed at a national seminar in Dhaka held in April. The study is a partnership among researchers at the University of Cambridge, the Dhaka-based International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease and Research Bangladesh (ICDDRB) and the Bangladesh National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD).
Individuals who consumed greater amounts of rice, sugar and fish were generally facing a higher risk of heart attack, while around 80% of all heart attack patients were users of tobacco products.
Preliminary findings from dietary intake pattern showed reduced risk of heart attack in individuals who adhered to a “prudent” diet (comprising of higher vegetables, fruits and lower carbohydrates and protein).
On the other hand, toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, copper and lead may be increasing the risk of heart attack in Bangladesh, as presence of the elements were found during the blood tests of the participants in the study.
While several classic risk factors (such as diabetes, blood pressure, lipids and smoking) determine heart attack risk in this population, a majority of the heart attack sufferers were classified as “lean”, with a third of all sufferers classified as having “central obesity” (weight around their stomach).
Among the first heart attack cases admitted at the NICVD, approximately 12% were women, meaning there was a possibility that a majority of the early heart attack symptoms in women may have been ignored at the households, raising a grave likelihood of substantial case fatalities in women.
“For instance, blood levels of several toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, copper and lead increase the risk of heart attack. Through BRAVE, we are now able to pinpoint the contribution of both traditional and emerging vascular risk factors in a more precise manner than ever before”, Dr Chowdhury added.
Beginning as a pilot initiative in 2011, this ongoing study has so far recruited >4,000 acute myocardial infarction (or first heart attack) patients and 4,000 healthy participants as a control group – making BRAVE the largest heart attack study in Bangladesh’s history.
The study is currently recruiting participants from the NICVD hospital in Dhaka, while ICDDRB is serving as main collaborating organisation for study implementation; the data and a part of samples are being sent to the University of Cambridge for further advanced analyses.
The event also received wide national media coverage in Bangladesh. Below are few links from the key English language dailies:
Daily Observer: http://observerbd.com/details.php?id=16580
Further details of the study can be found here: http://www.phpc.cam.ac.uk/ceu/research/brave/