Increasing rate of heart attacks in Pakistan

M Nadeem Bhatti

THE heart day is celebrated on 29 September every year. IHD (Ischemic heart disease) is the leading cause of death worldwide, placing a major resource and economic burden on public health systems. High income developed countries have seen declines in mortality rates from the disease, but elsewhere the picture is less favourable, with continued high mortality. Turkmenistan ranks 1st in the most affected countries in this regard. The chronic diseases accounted for 73% of all deaths in the country. As far as the matter is concerned with Pakistan, it can be seen that the increasing population and lack of health facilities have been making the scenario worse day by day. Despite the seriousness of cardiovascular diseases in Pakistan, minimal attention is given to the prevention of risk factors. In addition, economic and political instability is speeding up the rate of diseases in the country. Practical efforts are mandatory to enhance the understanding of these cardiovascular diseases risk factors such as diet, physical activity, health facilities and tobacco-control policies to support prevention and control at the population level.
Recently, the cardiologists have warned that heart diseases have become the prime cause of deaths in Pakistan where according to the WHO (World Health Organization) an alarming increase has been seen in deaths due to heart attacks, resulting in a bewildering 46 deaths with every passing hour. Four years ago, only 13 people were dying due to heart diseases per hour but only in a matter of four years, the figure has alarmingly increased and now 46 people are dying due to heart attacks. The situation is getting worse day by day and nobody is willing to take a step forward to save the humanity. In this regard, a kind reputed doctor of Pakistan Prof Dr Saqib Shafi (Cardiologist) of Punjab Institute of Cardiology has been doing an excellent job for many years to save the humanity. Currently, he is part of the core team at Punjab Institute of Cardiology, where he is the CEO.

Many a times, he has drawn the attention of authorities and public to different causes of heart diseases. In case that a family member gets heart disease, the entire family should work together to maintain a healthy lifestyle so the patient has higher morale and feels more support.

Angioplasty (Heart stent) is performed by cardiologists to restore blood flow through the arteries. In this procedure, the doctor drifts a thin tube through a blood vessel in the arm to the involved site in the artery. The tube has a tiny balloon attached on the end. When the tube reaches the place, the doctor filled the balloon to push the plate outward against the wall of the artery. This widens the artery and puts back the blood flow for the patient. It is usually a less complicated way to open the arteries that are clogged, but still, this procedure has some risks. It is extremely rare and can only be done in only 30% of the cases. The thing is; in Pakistan, when somebody goes for this procedure, one stent costs around 250,000 rupees in a satisfactory hospital and not every patient having a white collar job can afford that.

It is not as such as complicated thing as it is told. If a nuclear country like us can make missiles like Shaheen, Ghauri and make an atom bomb (One of the most disastrous thing in the world) etc, then why cannot we make heart stent of our own. We should promote our local medical industry. Moreover, we should produce stent of our own on very reasonable prices to save humanity. But it’s not been given priority by any government in the last three decades. Pakistan spends around 8 billion rupees (over $49 million) annually on importing cardiac stents from foreign countries, according to Shahbaz Gill, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister. It is still an existing question that why cannot we provide health to a family leader? Is it so complicated that a number of highly qualified researchers and scientist cannot make it in Pakistan and we certainly have to import it from foreign countries on very high prices?

I suggest that all the concerned authorities, head of the state and the people in Government should take notice of this serious issue before it gets worse. It is my special request (in favour of humanity of Pakistan) to President (Dr Arif Alvi), Prime Minister (Imran Khan) and secretary health (Mr Nabeel Awan) that this issue is waiting for their kind attention for the favourable health of the people of the country. A state needs qualified and intellectual people like senior professor (Khalid Masood Gondal) and (Prof Saqib Shafi). Under these two living legends, a research team should be made that will work on the basic causes of heart attacks. Also, health is as important as education in any place. So, if Pakistan wants to be ranked good in every sphere of life, it needs to give health a satisfactory budget which should be used on the citizens transparently. Also, expensive facilities like (Stent) should be made easily available for every deserving patient of the country so that Pakistan doesn’t have to import it at extremely high prices.
—The writer is a senior social analyst of Health & Chairman Pakistan Columnist Council.