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‘46 people dying of heart diseases in Pakistan every hour’

By M. Waqar Bhatti
September 30, 2018

KARACHI: The cardiologists have warned that heart diseases have become the leading cause of deaths in Pakistan where according to the World Health Organization (WHO) data, an alarming increase has been seen in deaths due to heart attacks, heart failures and other cardiac ailments, resulting in a bewildering 46 deaths with every passing hour.

“Three years ago, only 12 people were dying due to heart diseases per hour but only in a matter of three years, the figure has alarmingly increased four fold and now 46 people are dying due to heart attacks in Pakistan”, eminent cardiologist and head of Preventive Cardiology Department, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) Prof. Khawar Kazmi told The News on Saturday.

Speaking at a heart health screening camp, organized by the Health Committee of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) in collaboration with National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and a Pakistan pharmaceutical firm on the occasion of World Heart Day 2018, Prof. Kazmi said in accordance with the international standards Pakistanis have emerged as among the ‘laziest’ people in the world who hardly undertake any physical activity. The “WHO figures and statistics reveal that majority of Pakistanis don’t participate in physical activity which is the leading cause of heart ailments and heart attacks in the world including Pakistan,” Prof. Kazmi said while adding the majority of people, irrespective of their social status do not exercise regularly, walk or cycle. He informed that according to the WHO data of 2016 said as many as 250,000 people were dying due to heart diseases in Pakistan annually which was 19 percent of the total deaths countrywide but in just three years, the WHO has found a whooping increase by 29 percent of total deaths due to heart diseases, which is around 406,870 per year.

Breaking down the statistics furthe, he said “the daily death rate due to heart diseases comes to a staggering 1,115 people, mostly due to heart attacks, which can, fortunately be prevented by lifestyle modifications,”Prof. Kazmi said and added that the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases now account for 58 percent of total deaths in Pakistan.

The absence of fresh fruits and vegetables from the daily diet, Prof. Kazmi said, is a major causes of cardiac diseases. “We feel that the poor and lower-income group people eat vegetables on a regular basis but their overall rate of consumption is very low in our population,” he said. The use of tobacco is alarmingly on the rise in Pakistan where with the increase in price of cigarettes, the use of chewing tobacco has increased manifolds, Prof. Kazmi said and added chewing tobacco in the form of Gutka, Paan, Naswar, Mainpuri and other smuggled tobacco products is also on the increment with each passing day. According to him, these habits are also a major cause of hypertension, diabetes and obesity, which are the major risk factors behind cardiovascular diseases in Pakistan. Prof Kazmi advised the people to take care of their lives by regularly exercising, improving diet by including fresh fruits and vegetables and stopping use of tobacco in all its forms.

Meanwhile, over 150 journalists and their families were screened for hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol and Body Mass Index (BMI) at the health screening camp, free of charge consultations by a team of young cardiologists from the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases. A team of ECG technicians and paramedics performed ECG of the selected patients who were later advised to consult the cardiologists for further investigations while others were advised to follow a healthy lifestyle to avoid falling into the trap of heart ailments.