Assad, 69: Health Report

Published June 10th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Syrian President Hafez Assad died Saturday after a long struggle with diabetes, lymphoma, kidney failure and heart problems according to the Lebanese surgeon close to the Assad family in an interview with USA TODAY.  

Assad’s health has bogged him since November 1983, when he suffered his first heart attack and was hospitalized in a Damascus clinic. He was later diagnosed with a rare blood cancer that develops slowly, medical sources told AFP. 

According to other medical sources what killed Assad was most likely his diabetic complications.  

Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose causing it to back up in the bloodstream allowing sugar to rise too high. Untreated and poorly managed, it leads to various complications such as lymphoma, and retinopathy, both of which the late president Assad experienced in his final days while recovering from a stroke a few weeks back. 

The reason diabetes affects the circulation is due to the fact that high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels. They make the walls thicker and less elastic, so blood has a harder time passing through. Diabetics also have higher fat levels in their blood due to the higher amount of sugars in the blood. These fats or lipids clog and narrow the blood vessels, sometimes completely, leading to heart attack, angina (heart pain), stroke or painful legs. 

Although reported to be a vegetarian who abstained from alcohol, Assad’s health has been on a downfall since his heart attack in 1983 – 




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