Cigna Insurance Middle East Launches ‘Heart Your Heart’ Initiative, supported by the Dubai Health Authority, to Reinforce Heart Health Awareness in the UAE
Nation-wide survey and education aim to drive awareness and address gaps in perception on high blood pressure risks
Dubai-UAE: 25 September, 2018 – Cigna Insurance Middle East, a global leader in health services, today launched Cigna ‘Heart Your Heart’, an initiative dedicated to driving awareness of heart health among residents in the UAE.
Aligned to the National Agenda of the UAE Vision 2021, the Cigna Heart Your Heart campaign is designed to champion heart health across the UAE by raising awareness about the risks and prevention. The campaign will be carried out in phases over three years by initiating a dialogue on policy and regulation, driving behavioural change about heart health and, ultimately, creating an impactful outcome as a result of educating the public and medical fraternity.
In phase one, Heart Your Heart will raise awareness about high blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension, through a range of outreach efforts.
The World Health Organization estimates that one in three people globally are affected by HBP, causing approximately 9.4 million deaths annually. In the UAE, more than 30% of adults are currently battling high blood pressure. A nation-wide survey carried out by Cigna revealed that, despite the staggering global statistics, awareness of HBP in the UAE is a key concern, with close to half of the respondents (44%) not perceiving the condition as potentially fatal. Half the respondents who do not suffer from HBP are also not aware of the complexities caused by the condition.
The findings of the survey were released today at an event attended by senior officials of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Cigna representatives and medical experts.
The survey highlights a prevailing false perception among UAE residents of a correlation between HBP and its ‘symptoms’. Experts speaking at the event highlighted that HBP patients may not display any symptoms, leading to the condition being labelled as a “silent killer.” This is likely a key contributing factor to the lack of awareness and high prevalence of HBP in the country.
Commenting on the initiative, Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al Nuaimi, CEO of Joint Corporate Services of the Dubai Health Authority, said: “Heart disease is responsible for 30% of deaths in Dubai, with the numbers rising rapidly. Cigna’s Heart Your Heart to address this issue supports our mission to raise awareness of heart health and educate residents about the importance of following healthier lifestyles.”
Jason Sadler, President of Cigna International Markets, said: “Cigna’s business globally is founded on our mission to bring definitive change in healthcare and well-being for the people we serve. This mission lends itself seamlessly to the Cigna Heart Your Heart initiative. We are delighted to receive the support of the Dubai Health Authority and the local medical community for this initiative which seeks to safeguard the overall health of the nation as outlined by the UAE’s National Agenda.”
During the last quarter of 2018, Cigna will support DHA-led educational sessions to connect with the medical fraternity, health providers and insurance practitioners on best practices in diagnosing and treating HBP. In addition, mobile HBP screening clinics will take place at Cigna’s monthly Park Run events, including the upcoming run taking place at Zabeel Park on Saturday, 6 October 2018.
The outcome of the sessions and screenings will be studied, and efforts enhanced to drive the initiative in partnership with local authorities and other stakeholders in the UAE’s health sector.
About the Survey Results Launch
A panel discussion held during the event examined the results of the survey, underlining the importance of screening tests, treatment plans, prevention and management efforts for high blood pressure that need to be shared with healthcare institutions, insurers and individuals.
The panel included Dr. Mohamed Farghaly, Senior Specialist, Family Medicine and Head of Insurance Medical Regulation at DHA; Dr. Omar Hallak, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at the American Hospital in Dubai; and Dr. Ruchika Mukherjee, Associate Medical Director for Cigna Global Well-being Solutions.
The survey results presented by Arthur Cozad, CEO – Cigna Insurance Middle East, revealed that close to half of the respondents (47%) who do not suffer from high blood pressure are ‘unaware of its symptoms’. This statistic is particularly high among the Emirati population (62%) and those in the age group of 18-24 years (58%).
“Although individuals over 40 years are identified as having a higher propensity for HBP, preventative measures and early detection is essential from as early as 18 years of age,” said Dr. Farghaly.
The findings also show that 16% have never been checked for HBP, and close to 50% cited ‘not having any symptoms’ as a predominant reason for not being screened. A further deep dive reveals that 27% of the younger age group (18-24) and 26% Arab Expats claim to have never checked their blood pressure.
Adding to the misconception that HBP is a non-fatal disorder, up to 45% respondents said it is not a serious health condition. At the same time, over 55% of UAE residents believe HBP cannot be managed. Yet half the population view it as common in the emirates.
High stress, in addition to family history, weight and physically inactivity, have been cited as the highest contributing factors for HBP. This ties in with the 2018 Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey, which reveals that stress among UAE employees is among the highest in the world, primarily due to their concerns about finances and work stability.
Dr Hallak said: “Nearly 69% of people who have their first heart attack are found to have a history of HBP. Doctors need to continuously work with patients to ensure they are aware about the appropriate means to mitigate and control the chances of the condition becoming life threatening.”