Coronary disease has become a scourge for Cretans. According to Dr George Kochiadakis, head of the Invasive Cardiology Clinic of Heraklion University Hospital, coronary disease is found in 70% of patients submitted to a angiocardiogram.
He also stated that each year about 1,250 Cretans with heart problems undergo some kind of surgery, either angioplasty or a bypass. In the 10 years that the Hemodynamic Laboratory has been operational, there have been 12,600 angiocardiograms and 2,600 angioplasties.
The Clinic is the only such department in Crete and remains open 24 hours a day all year round, as all serious heart attack cases taken to Cretan hospitals and in need of immediate surgery end up at the University Hospital. The average age of patients is about 60, but this is falling every year. Only a quarter of patients are women over 50. Changes in lifestyle are to blame for the increase in cases: a fatty diet, lack of exercise and smoking.
About 30% of patients, even after an operation, do not change their way of life but continue to eat unhealthy food and refuse to give up smoking. Heart attack patients also often stop taking their medicine. Patients who interrupted their course of drugs had an 89% chance of survival a year later, compared to 98% of those who continued taking one or more than three drugs.