Every hour 12 Pakistanis die due to a heart attack.
Even more alarming is the fact that over a third (34 per cent) of all deaths in Pakistan are caused by CVD which has emerged as the leading non-communicable disease in the country. According to experts speaking at a World Heart Day event organised at the Aga Khan University Hospital, population-based studies among persons 40 years and older found CVD prevalence of 25 per cent (using both clinical and ECG criteria) with higher rates in urban populations.
Cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Heart attacks and strokes are usually acute events and are mainly caused by a blockage that prevents blood from flowing to the heart or brain.
Hypertension is the leading risk factor for CVD and is associated with 7.6 million deaths globally. In Pakistan, prevalence of hypertension has been found to be 19 per cent in population over 15 years of age. Citing a number of different studies, experts highlighted the prevalence of obesity in up to 45 per cent of the urban population of Pakistan as another major risk factor for CVD. Perhaps even more worrisome is that up to 25 per cent of the children in Pakistan are either overweight or at risk of being overweight.
This year the global theme “Take the road to a healthy heart” focused on lifestyle changes in order to prevent and control cardiovascular disease with a special focus on women and children.
Speaking at the event, Dr Khawar Kazmi, Professor and Section Head of Cardiology, said that over 60 per cent of Pakistan’s population was under 25 years of age and the burden of CVD in Pakistan is likely to increase phenomenally as this population ages over the next 10-15 years.
He said that this unmanageable burden would result in a crippling effect on the nation’s economy and can only be controlled through effective strategies and resource allocation for prevention and treatment of CVD at both the governmental and non-government levels.
Aga Khan University Hospital organised the healthy heart mela as part of the world heart day event. The mela included a number of activities for adults and children including a poster competition of over 500 posters drawn by children aged 10-15 years; free screening for blood sugar and cholesterol levels, body mass index calculation and free of cost nutritional counselling and medical advice by AKUH doctors. Games involving physical activity were also organised to demonstrate the importance of exercise in cardiac disease prevention.
Speaking at the event, Dr Hasanat Sharif, Professor and Section Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery stressed the importance of reliable and high-quality diagnostic and treatment facilities for those suffering from cardiac ailments. He added that AKUH offered the most comprehensive cardiac services in the country for both adults and children. These included cutting edge diagnostic facilities such as 3-D Echocardiography and Cardiac MRI, correction of heart rhythm disorders and surgical correction of complex congenital heart defects in children.