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September 30, 2020

Sedentary lifestyle, growing incidence of smoking resulting in heart attacks, deaths among young Pakistanis: experts

Karachi

September 30, 2020

An alarming increase in the incidence of cardiovascular diseases has been witnessed over the last few years in Pakistan, where young people between 30 and 40 years have started dying due to heart ailments, said experts said on Tuesday.

Around 30 to 40 per cent of all deaths were occurring due to heart and cardiovascular illnesses in Pakistan, they added. “Cardiovascular disease has become the most common cause of death in Pakistan and now people less than 30 years of age are also having heart attacks in Pakistan. Deaths due to cardiovascular disease in the age group of 30 to 40 years is becoming common in Pakistan due to a sedentary lifestyle and other risk factors including heavy smoking,” said eminent cardiologist Prof Dr Javed Akbar Sial while talking to media persons at an awareness session.

He stressed the urgent need to transform the Pakistani nation’s lifestyle to prevent young people’s deaths. The awareness session was part of a daylong ‘Heart-Health Camp’ jointly organised by the Karachi Union of Journalists-Dastoor (KUJ-D) and the Karachi Press Club (KPC) in collaboration with the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and local pharmaceutical firm PharmEvo in connection with World Heart Day 2020 at the KPC.

Around 150 male and female journalists attended the Heart Health Camp where blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol, Body Mass Index (BMI) and ECG monitoring facilities were available, while consultant cardiologists examined patients and advised them to shed weight by having a balanced diet and doing regular exercise, quit smoking and improve their lifestyle to remain fit and healthy.

Visiting doctors said the majority of journalists examined at the camp were either overweight or obese, many had their BMI high or very high while several were having their high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. They were advised to avail the gymnasium facility and exercise regularly for 30 to 40 minutes to keep their blood pressure, sugar and weight in permissible limits.

Speaking to journalists at an awareness session in connection with World Heart Day 2020, Prof Sail said cardiovascular disease had become a disease of the poor, and people from low socio-economic group of the society were having heart attacks and other complications of the cardiovascular system more frequently as compared to people belonging to the higher socio-economic group.

“Hypertension, diabetes, smoking and obesity are some of the major risk factors of cardiovascular disease and these risk factors are very common among the young Pakistani population. Our people are not very fond of physical activities, sports or any other type of physical exertion. Smoking and use of tobacco is on the rise and these factors are leading to high incidence of cardiovascular disease among younger Pakistanis.”

Another cardiologist from the NICVD, Dr Jahangir Ali Shah, advised the journalists to avoid smoking, saying heavy smokers should quit smoking as it was not only a strong risk factor for cardiovascular disease but also caused large strokes, irreversible damage to lungs, cancer and other serious neurological and psychiatric illnesses.

Samar Iqbal Jaffri of local pharmaceutical firm PharmEvo said they had organised over a dozen heart-health awareness camps in Karachi, while walks, seminars, camps and awareness activities had been organised in entire Pakistan to create awareness about preventive measures against cardiovascular diseases.

“We are striving for a healthy society, and in this regard, Pharmevo is trying is best to make people healthy, both mentally and physically,” he said, adding that they had engaged senior cardiologists, medical students and people from other walks of life to create awareness about cardiovascular diseases in the society.

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News Desk adds: “At least 46 Pakistanis die every hour due to a heart attack while more than one third of all deaths in Pakistan are caused by cardiovascular diseases, making it the leading non-communicable disease in the country.”

These statistics were shared by Prof Faisal Ahmed, consultant cardiologist and head of the Cardiology Department at Liaquat National Hospital and Tabba Heart Institute, Karachi, during an awareness webinar organised by M. Hashim Memorial Trust on World Heart Day.

Each year, World Heart Day focuses on a specific theme, and this year’s campaign encourages people to “Use Heart to Beat Cardiovascular Diseases” for your loved ones, society and yourself.

Prof Ahmed said: “Pakistan has all the risk factors for heart diseases. According to recent studies, about 25 per cent of adult Pakistanis have diabetes. Obesity is also on the rise, with 20 per cent of Pakistanis being overweight. One in two Pakistanis have hypertension and 42 per cent of these do not even know they have high blood pressure, that leads to strokes, CVD and kidney disease. These conditions are causes of the high rate of heart attacks and CVD in Pakistan.”

Prof Ahmed said: “While previously, it was the norm to see people of an older age group suffering from high cholesterol and the resultant heart conditions, these days more younger people – some in their 20s and 30s – are suffering from this condition.”

Prof Ahmed said that in the time of COVID-19, cardiac patients were faced with a double-edged threat, not only were they more at risk of developing severe cardiac complications by the virus, but they may also be afraid to seek ongoing care for their hearts.

The cardiac healthcare environment is constantly changing and we’re always thinking about what’s next, said Adeel Ahmed, manager at the Marketing & Development at M. Hashim Memorial Trust & Neurospinal and Cancer Care Institute.

“As part of our long-term commitment to advancing cardiovascular health in Pakistan, we continue to introduce innovative diagnostic tools like cardiac PET-CT scan, a real game changer. So far we are only in Pakistan, cardiac MRI, third facility in Pakistan and CT-Angio, advanced but most economical at NCCI supported by M. Hashim Memorial Trust, these procedures are entirely free for deserving patients,” Adeel Ahmed added.