LAHORE - Majority of the premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided by minimising main risk factors including smoking, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, says a senior heart physician from leading public sector hospitals in the City. Heart disease and stroke are the worlds leading cause of death, claiming 17.1 million lives each year, while there is rapid growth in the number of patients. Heart diseases and stroke kills more women each year than cancer, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. Worldwide, an average of more than 16 women per minute die of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. In Pakistan and other third world countries, the situation is even worse. There is rapid increase in the number of heart patients and deaths caused by cardiac arrest. The cardiac arrest alone contributes to 25 percent of death in the country. The situation has become really alarming with diagnose of heart disease at quite a young age and even in childhood. According to the heart physicians, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are the main reasons behind the rapid increase in heart disease across the globe. In a country like Pakistan, the addition of a number of other factors like tension due to extra burden or pressure at workplace, domestic disputes due to poverty or low income and unhealthy lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle and use of balanced diet could avoid premature heart attack. People should avoid taking spicy meals and cold drinks. They should take simple diet, take skimmed milk, vegetables and fruit, reduce physical inactivity and avoid smoking and alcohol consumption, said Dr Tariq Butt, senior heart physician at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, adding, lack of health awareness was causing considerable increase in heart disease. Awareness and precautionary measures could reduce the chances of heart disease. Patients of high blood pressure and diabetes should take necessary medicine timely. People having history of heart disease in family should take extra care, Dr Butt said.