Over the past 10 years, cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of illness and death in Barbados.
The country has also recorded approximately three strokes every two days.
Minister of Health, John Boyce, made these disclosures today while delivering the feature address at the dedication and official naming of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados headquarters building in Ladymeade Gardens, Jemmotts Lane.
The building was also officially named The Hassell & Symmonds Cardiac Care Centre in honour of the founding fathers Trevor Hassell and Dru Symmonds.
Expanding on this disturbing evidence the Health Minister said: “Mortality statistics from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital indicate that cardiovascular disease accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of all deaths in Barbados. Our efforts must be directed at the reduction of premature death and potential years of life lost from cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, 80 per cent of these deaths are preventable using simple life-style modifications including limited alcohol intake, abstinence from tobacco, daily physical activity and exercise and a wholesome diet including fruit and vegetables.”
Boyce added: ”I am well aware that even with the best prevention programmes there will be many of us who unfortunately will develop cardiovascular disease. In addition to preventative measures in primary care, the Ministry of Health will continue to champion quality care and treatment at all stages.”
Addressing the high incidence of strokes, he pointed out that the Stroke Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was a good example of evidence based decision making which has resulted in the practical implementation of health care policies.
The Minister of Health noted that the Barbados National Registry for non-communicable disease showed that there were 456 and 480 cases of stroke in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
”These statistics resulted in a policy decision for the creation of a 16-bed stroke unit at the QEH that will provide urgent and critical interventions for stroke patients and will translate into better outcomes. A similar type of decision has already been taken with respect to coronary artery disease and the cardiac suite, whose services will include critical care post acute heart attack, thrombolysis, cardiac catherisation and angio-graphic interventions. This facility will be open to the public by the end of the year. The cardiac suite will have the capacity to accommodate referrals from the English -speaking Caribbean creating opportunities for improved utilisation resulting in revenue gains,” Boyce said.
He gave the assurance that the Ministry of Health will continue to support training of health care professionals in cardiovascular medicine and other specialities through continuing professional education and seminars for doctors and nurses.
In addition to the renaming of the building, the Maria Holder Memorial Trust Resource Centre. (NC)