The cardiovascular "health" of Soweto is under threat as ever more people seek treatment for heart conditions, reflecting the effects of a change in lifestyles and a low awareness of heart health.
This is according to research conducted at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital and published in UK medical journal Lancet.
"The major findings from the largest and most comprehensive study of heart disease in Africa indicated that most patients had multiple risk factors commonly associated with affluent heart disease in the developed world," said Karen Sliwa-Hanhle, a professor who leads the hospital's cardiovascular research unit.
Many women were obese and more than one in two patients had a history of high blood pressure. Heart failure accounted for 44 percent of the newly diagnosed cases and many patients presented with advanced forms of heart disease, she said.
"These findings suggest that this phenomenon is likely to combinations of lack of awareness of this condition, paucity and quality of primary-care facilities, and that there are now multiple threats to the current and future 'heart health' of Soweto."
She said the problem was to increase scarce health resources to people in developing countries.
The researchers noted that cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure were often perceived to be problems of the developed world.
In many regions of the world, physically active lives have been replaced with inactive ones with people consuming calories out of proportion to their daily needs, she said. Modern and commercial ways of processing food also promote obesity and the development of diabetes.
Soweto, with its population of about one million, was selected because it represents one of the largest urban areas in Africa and it has benefited from improved economic conditions and public health advances. - Sapa