Shortage of Heart Surgeons in Future Possible
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the country and the world today, said Dr Mehrab Marzban, scientific secretary of the 5th International Conference on Cardiovascular Diseases, at a press meet on Tuesday.
The conference will be held on February 21-24 at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences (SBUMS). Eight cardiologists from Germany, Lebanon and Denmark are also attending.
Pointing to the fact that young doctors intending to specialize usually prefer other specialties over cardiology and heart surgery, he said “this creates a gap in healthcare delivery.”
Given the increasing median age in the country and subsequently the higher rates of cardiovascular diseases, developing plans that aim to increase the number of heart surgeons and cardiologists is a necessity,” IRNA quoted him as saying.
“At present, there are 240 heart surgeons who can meet the current needs of the elderly population of 6.4 million; however, as the population ages with longer life expectancy, their number will be inadequate to meet the future needs of the older population in cardiovascular diseases.”
Around 8.3% of the 80 million population is over the age of 60 years. It is estimated that seniors will comprise nearly 12.3% of the population by 2025, and 25% by 2050.
In the current academic year, only two medical students have selected heart surgery specialty. “We have urged the Health Ministry to take measures to address the problem. If each year 8-10 heart specialists retire, we will face critical shortage in this field over the next 5-10 years.”
No doubt being a heart surgeon is a difficult job both physically and psychologically and that is why many medical students prefer not to opt for the specialty. “Sometimes, when we lose a patient we feel personally responsible, and it affects us although it’s not our fault. Also, each surgery may take eight hours and this can cause physical stress and back pain.”
He added that lack of modern equipment in hospitals which reduces the success rate of the surgeries, and aggression and hostility towards physicians by families of patients who may not survive complicated heart surgeries, are other factors that make medical students to choose specialties that they deem uncomplicated.
Treating Cardiovascular Diseases
Earlier, Health Minister Seyed Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi had said that the rate of premature deaths due to cardiovascular diseases remains high. They are the leading cause of premature deaths among Iranians, claiming 51% of the annual death rate.
“The ministry has purchased two effective clot buster drugs (a type of intravenous heart medication to break up blood clots) which is covered by insurance,” he said.
Several measures have been taken during the past three years to increase public access to quality treatment and control strategies for heart disease and about 50% of the hospitals have been equipped with specialized cardiovascular wards.
The national document on prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has called for reducing cardiovascular diseases by 25% by the end of 2025.
Medical experts say that people at risk of cardiovascular diseases tend to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much fat around the waist, low good cholesterol (HDL), and high triglycerides for about 10 years before experiencing a heart attack and stroke, and recommend regular screening in preventing potential fatalities.