Cardiac health

Published November 24, 2022

ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 17.9 million people die globally from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) every year. The burden of heart diseases on the national economy is increasing day by day. Studies have reported that Asians carried more than double the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension and CVDs.

It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of deaths occurred due to CVDs and strokes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and women are at a higher risk.

With the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like diabetes mellitus and chronic respiratory diseases, CVDs are increasing dramatically owing to low health budget, lack of screening, and no education on health, diet and lifestyle. Some modifiable changes in everyday life can prevent the incidence of NCDs in Pakistan, including CVDs.

However, knowledge and education about cardiac health and associated factors are limited and this leads to late recognition of the disease. Even relatively younger people in their 40s are known to be suffering from heart attacks due to excessive smoking, diet choices, low-level physical activity and altered sleep patterns. These choices generally first cause obesity, diabetes and hypertension before leading to heart attack.

Around one-quarter of the adult popu-lation is living with CVDs in Pakistan. Contrary to general perception that women tend to live longer than men, it has been proven by studies that both men and women are susceptible to heart diseases, and about 35pc of women die due to CVDs alone globally.

Some factors make women even more vulnerable to heart diseases than men, including preterm labour, early mens-truation or menopause, stress, depression, diabetes or hypertension during pregnancy, inflammatory diseases, etc.

Awareness about heart diseases is not common among the population, especially among women, who are likely to overlook their health due to cultural barriers and a lack of women physicians.

Sometimes symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea and fainting are not associated with heart diseases and are completely ignored by women, thus increasing the chance of complications.

There is a need for upgrading cardiac health facilities for the population, especially women, targeting early detection, diagnosis and treatment while spreading awareness about heart diseases and regular medical checkups.

Living a sedentary life increases the chances of being overweight, obese, hypertensive and diabetic. The importance of diet and physical activities should be inculcated in society, while the harm due to smoking and passive smoking also needs to be highlighted.

Tabinda Ashraf Shahid
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2022

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