KARACHI: Emphasising the need for a healthy diet and lifestyle, medical experts said on Tuesday that younger population in Pakistan today suffered more from heart diseases than the older population and that the prevalence of hypertension, a major risk factor for heart diseases, had increased multiple times in adults.

They also called upon the government to activate regulatory bodies to inspect restaurants and hotels and examine the quality of food on sale.

These views were expressed at a press conference held at the Karachi Press Club by the Pakistan Cardiac Society (PCS) in connection with World Heart Day.

This year’s theme is ‘Harnessing the power of digital health’.

Responding to a question about changes in disease burden over the years, Prof Abdul Rasheed Khan representing PCS said recent studies in Pakistan had shown that younger population (less than 50) were suffering more from heart diseases than the older population and the prevalence of hypertension had increased from 17 per cent in 1994 to 46pc in adults in recent years.

“In fact, these days, teenagers are reporting to us with heart diseases. It’s an alarming situation and we need to pay attention to what we eat and how we live,” he said, adding the major risk factors for heart diseases were increased urbanisation and stress, unhealthy diet, consumption of tobacco in any form, sedentary lifestyle and pollution.

Excessive use of salt

The prevalence of hypertension in some areas of Balochistan, he pointed out, was found to be as high as 58pc.

The reason was excessive use of salt in food.

On the link between Covid-19 and cardiovascular disease, Prof Syed Ishtiaq Rasool explained that though they seemed to have no direct association, disease (Covid-19) severity was found to be high in heart patients with poor compliance with medical advice as well as those with uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension.

Earlier, experts underscored the need for creating awareness of heart health through digital means particularly during the ongoing pandemic that had reduced physical contacts and in-person meetings.

They regretted encroachment of public spaces which, they said, had adverse impact on people’s physical and mental health.

250,000 people die annually in Pakistan

At events organised by the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) to mark World Heart Day, speakers said 17 million people in the world died of heart diseases every year whereas the mortality figure due to cardiovascular diseases in Pakistan stood at 250,000.

“Arterial blockage is an important cause of cardiovascular diseases. But, this can be prevented through positive changes in life. Quitting smoking and starting regular walk and exercise are vital for heart health,” said Dr Tariq Farman heading the Dow Institute of Cardiology at DUHS.

He also spoke about the different cardiac treatments available in Pakistan and said they were costly and at times of no use. “This happens when the patient arrives too late, resulting in loss of life. There are, however, situations in which the patient is on medicines for life. At the Dow institute, we have all the latest treatment facilities. But, we will still advise you to be careful and keep your heart away from a doctor.”

DUHS Vice Chancellor Prof Muhammad Saeed Quraishy, Pro Vice Chancellor Prof Zarnaz Wahid and Dr Rustam Zaman also spoke.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2021

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