Islamabad - Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is the world’s biggest killer taking lives of over 17.5 million people every year while one out of ten persons between the age of 30-70 die because of this disease, experts said on Thursday.

Head of Cardiology Department at Shifa International Hospital (SIH) Dr Asad Ali Saleem said this while addressing a seminar organised to mark the World Heart Day. Doctors, medical students, patients and people from all walks of life attended the seminar. Free consultancy, screening and informative booklets were given to the participants.

Dr Asad said that a healthy heart is vital for living life to the full, regardless of your age or gender. Controlling the major cardiovascular risk factors, by choosing a healthy diet, being physically active and by not smoking can prevent heart attacks and strokes and may help the heart to age more slowly.

Heart disease is the leading cause of loss of myth that it is the disease of the affluent does not hold true. Indeed, the prevalence of this problem is ubiquitous and the consequences are frequently more devastating for those who live in the impoverished third world countries of the 17.3 million cardiovascular deaths that take place annually, at least 80 per cent of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) could be avoided if four main risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol – are controlled. 

Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist SIH Dr Zaheer Ahmad said that congenital heart defects are the most common types of birth defects. About 1 in 100 babies are born with a heart defect. In Pakistan approximately 50,000 children born every year. One third of them will need treatment (surgical or interventional) in early childhood.

Dr Zaheer Ahmad said that we do not always understand what causes a heart defect, but, there are some factors that are thought to increase their risk i.e. mostly by chance, certain genetic factors and maternal diseases like diabetes or certain viral infections early in pregnancy. These are things that every woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant can do to help prevent heart defects and have a healthy pregnancy: 1. Take a multivitamin with folic acid every day. 2. If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar in good control. 3. Get vaccinated. 4. Maintain a healthy weight, both before and during pregnancy. 5. Talk to your doctor about medicines that you take.

He discussed the symptoms of heart disease in children i.e., Rapid breathing, Bluish skin, lips, and nails, Fatigue or difficulty feeding, Poor weight gain, Sweating, especially while feeding.