Apr 262008

By Irfan Aligi

KARACHI: The only way to combat heart disease lies in poverty – not the variety which prevails in Pakistan, since there is hardly a person whose lunch or dinner is biryaani-free, commented eminent cardiologist Prof. Dr Hamid Shafquat.

He said this while addressing an awareness program held at the Arts Council of Pakistan on Friday. The Arts Council’s medical and social welfare committee, under the chairmanship of ENT surgeon Dr Qaiser Sajjad, organized this event titled “Heart attack – Mankind’s mega killer”.

“We have discarded food items that we should eat regularly. Allah created vegetables for humans, but we ignore these now. We drink milk, which is intended for children, damaging our hearts. In olden times, the only reason to eat chicken was because either the eater or the hen was sick,” said Shafquat.

Replying to a question, he said that the elderly usually lie about the secret to their long life, and even exaggerate by telling people that they increase their lifespan by eating this food or that food. The reality is that people today live much longer than they did before. People above 60 used to be declared insane, whereas today they have so much life that they are still engaged in courting activities, Shafquat claimed.

In reply to another question, he severely criticized the role that the Pakistani media has played, saying that the media has failed to counter the impact of Indian media. The dominance of Indian media and the fact that many people in Pakistan promote Indian media to earn a living have portrayed a poor and negative picture of Pakistan. He highlighted the paucity of pediatric cardiac surgeons in the country.

He refuted the idea that tension is generated from outside the society. The source of tension lies within us and it is a poor excuse to blame society or other people for our own tensions. He urged people to avoid greed, jealousy and prodigality to avoid heart disease due to stress and tension.

Another speaker, Aga Khan University Hospital Cardiac surgeon Dr Shahid Sami said that coronary artery disease (CAD) is responsible for 30 percent (17 million deaths) of all deaths across the globe, of which 85 percent take place in developing countries such as Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and others.

Sami held high blood pressure responsible for affecting 600 million people across the globe. Even in the United States, an ambulance takes four minutes on average to reach a patient, but still 25 percent of cardiac patients do not make it to the hospital because they die en route. In USA, 2.9 percent of patients die during cardiac surgery, whereas at AKUH in Pakistan, that figure is just 2.3 percent, claimed Sami.

Lifestyle is one of the key factors responsible for the huge prevalence of heart disease. Obesity is a problem and people should avoid eating large amounts of food. He highlighted the fact that during the war between India and Pakistan in 1971, 90,000 Pakistani troops were held as prisoners of war and returned home slim and trim.

He warned against ghee, saying that turning palm oil into ghee is risky for health, and recommended using olive oil or canola seed oil instead. Smoking should also be avoided, as even passive smokers have an increased risk of heart disease by 6 and 3 percent in men and women respectively.

Dr Qaisar Sajjad demanded that the government implement a prohibition of smoking ordinance in letter and in spirit, in the gruffest manner possible. The government should also monitor the timings of wedding halls and should recover playgrounds from illegal occupants to create a healthy atmosphere for the people of the current and future generations.

The trend seen at marriage halls has become extremely strange. The invitation cards bear a date, say April 25, for a wedding ceremony, but dinner is served on April 26, since that is when the bride and groom, their families and the guests arrive. Eating at late hours is another reason for heart disease, Sajjad remarked.

Courtesy: Daily Times, 26/4/2008

 Posted by at 9:00 am

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