THE World Heart Day was observed around the world on Sept 29 to raise awareness about heart diseases and to prevent the factors behind such diseases. The heart plays an important role in the body even though it is only about the size of one’s fist. However, a little carelessness is enough to make one suffer from heart diseases. If the risk factors, like smoking, excessive sugar consumption, unhealthy diet and stress, dominate one’s life, the heart for sure is weakening constantly.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that affect the heart or the blood vessels, killing more than 18.6 million people each year. Smoking is commonly linked to pulmonary and cancer diseases, but it significantly increases the risk of heart disease as well. Tragically, smoking is on the rise among men as well as women. Women who smoke have a 25 per cent higher risk of heart disease than men who smoke.

Smoking is called the ‘silent killer’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Globally, more than one in 10 deaths are caused by smoking, according to the World Heart Federation (WHF), while approximately 1.2 million deaths are caused by second-hand smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels, temporarily raises blood pressure, and impairs exercise tolerance as it reduces the amount of oxygen in the body. Tobacco use is a major cause of blood clots, which can lead to paralysis and sudden death.

With a daily routine involving physical exercise, the risk of heart disease can be reduced by up to 30pc and the risk of diabetes by 27pc. Those who stay away from physical exercise have a 20-30pc increased risk of death. At least 3.2 million deaths worldwide each year are caused by inadequate physical activity.

Awareness campaigns both by the government and the private sector can bring about a change gradually. Making life simple and active is the best way to keep heart diseases away.

Maj-Gen (retd) Masood-ur-Rehman Kayani

Pakistan National Heart Association

Rawalpindi

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2021

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