Why cardiac/heart diseases are increasing in Chitral?


Since April 2013, I have seen more than 50 cases of myocardial infarction (heart attack) in Aga Khan Medical Centre Booni, alone. It makes me think that why despite being in a clean atmosphere and peaceful environment our people are prone to this fatal disease. And the following three most important reasons come into my mind which I want to share with the readers. 1) Hypertension: We call it hypertension when the blood pressure rises above 140/90. It seems highly prevalent in Chitral. Our people might be genetically prone, that is a non modifiable risk factor but what we can modify is our high salt intake. Hypertension is not curable but controllable, means one needs to take medications life-long and this is something our people need to understand. I have seen many patients who when asked about the medications for their raised blood pressure would say ‘ Dochearttor Sahib! Kyawat kee zyad boyan, zhiboman kya’ means I take it when my BP gets raised. This is a very wrong idea. Blood pressure is a silent killer, it mostly never gives you symptoms and it never gets cured when you take a tablet once in a blue moon. One has to take the medicine regularly and keep it checked to see whether it is controlled with the same dose or one needs to see the doctor to increase the dose. All healthy people should do their routine check up and get their blood pressure checked every three months because most of the time high blood pressure only presents with complications, without any warning symptoms. 2) Unhealthy Diet & Lifestyle: Wise people say that one should avoid three white poisons, ‘white flour, sugar, salt’. But I have seen that in this part of world we use all the three white poisons plus other non white poisons very fondly and in a very high amount. We are fond of fatty meat, daisi ghee and food rich in cholesterol. And instead of taking light healthy diet our people tend to take as much food as possible at a time, putting extra burden on their tummy and heart. 3) Lack of Awareness: The most important thing is that our people are not yet aware of the fact that one needs to go to the doctor without any full blown disease, for healthy routine check-up. Blood sugar level, cholesterol level and blood pressure should be checked routinely after 35 years of age to avoid the fatal diseases associated with the above mentioned conditions, which mostly present without symptoms. And the biggest irony is that when one gets the symptoms of Angina (initial step of heart attack), he/she calls it ‘wrenz’ i.e muscle sprain and never bothers to go to the doctor until the heart attack occurs. There are many other risks associated with cardiac diseases but in our society the above mentioned ones are the most essential ones and need to be taken care of. The doctors and nurses should educate people about healthy life style plus signs, symptoms of cardiac diseases and the urgent need of seeing doctor when one gets chest pain of any origin.  The writer is a graduate from the Aga Khan University (AKU) Karachi and works at the Aga Khan Medical Centre, Booni, Chitral.]]>

  1. Dr. Zubeda Sirang says

    Thank you everyone for taking out time reading, suggesting and commenting on the article. I really appreciate them.
    As far as campaign against this fatal disease is concerned, AKHSP has already started the adult screening program in which we go to far flung and remote villages of Chitral and carry out the examination and screening tests in the area health centre. But yes, it still needs campaigns on larger scale so that people can be motivated to go to the health centre/medical centre without any full blown disease and carry out the healthy screening tests with money they spend on buying cigarettes and cold drinks.

  2. Sher Wali Khan Aseer says

    I am really pleased to see my son and daughters serving the most neglected people of my country. I pray for their healthy, peaceful life. May Allah Paak grant them true sense of service to serve the humanity. We are to fight ignorance, poverty and diseases through practice, media campaign and through money, if we can put aside. I consider it our obligation to serve the area, first, where we were born.A very few of us have access to net or newspaper. Awareness about health requires door-to-door awareness campaign. However, those who have access to internet or print media can take the message to remote areas by arranging awareness programmes for the rural as well as the urban population. Thanks to Mr.Sameer for his highly appreciative words.

  3. Sarwar ud Din says

    This is indeed a big issue and there is need to get some research work done by medical people. Many young people have also suffered hear attack in front of me. Besides, hear attack, other diseases are also rising. Prevention is better than cure that is very true I agree.

  4. Shams, KSA says

    Thanks for BMC for great struggle for the health care of people of Chitral. As we all know there are no advanced health facility in Chitral, it is better to stay away from those disease which can be prevented by simply changing the lifestyle. It is the responsibility of local health administrations to make aware the public about diseases and their prevention.
    I am also working in one advance cardiac center here we go door to door and market to market just to aware the public and screen them for any possible heart disease. We arrange seminars, workshops. We also broadcast messages on mobiles to update, remind the public how to prevent the heart disease. The government here prefers preventive medicines rather then building hospitals for the public.
    Shams KSA

  5. Ezzat Baig says

    Timely screening is a must to beat the heart diseases. I also think that cardiac diseases have become curable if timely diagnosis is carried out through proper screening.

  6. Sameer Chitrali says

    Dr Zubeda deserves special thanks for sacrificing her job at the AKUH and cozy life in Karachi to return to her birthplace of Chitral with the only aim to serve the people of her area. My special thanks also go to her father Sher Wli Khan Aseer saheb. You are a role model for the Chitralis. There are lots of Chitrali doctors who after completing their medical education at the expense of the public consider themselves as Firawn when asked to go back to their native area and serve the ailing humanity. These greedy persons tagged with the title of doctors have preferred living in big cities and even out of the country to earn more and more money. In such a situation SWK saheb has bound their two daughters, both doctors, to return to Chitral and serve the Chitralis. He has also stationed his only son in his native Yarkhun valley to teach the area daughters. I have never seen such type of a man so committed for the well-being of the people of Chitral. One thing I will say for people like SWK and others is that those who serve the humanity have a deep sleep at the end of the day and people will always remember them. Great work.
    Sameer Chitrali,

  7. Anwar Ali says

    Thanks Dr Xubi! for the great effort. But it is the need of time to start an awareness campaign on community basis in Jamat Khanas and mosques. Use of “Rip”Trup Chai, different Kolas (the trend has become a status symbol), cheap ice cream and more importantly use of Banaspati Ghee must be condemned.

  8. Pahlawan says

    We admire the efforts of BMC Booni in awaking the public about such a fatal disease. It is not enough. We have to go ahead in preventing this disease like organizing seminars and workshops for general public.

  9. Javed Karim, Chitral says

    I think the main reasons for the rising cases of cardiac diseases are changes in our lifestyles. Due to the coming of alien edibles and TV and agricultural machinery like tractors and threshers,we have become addicted to sedentary life. We have abandoned our traditional games and sports and are now glued to TV and playing on mobiles. Yes there is a need for creating awareness among the masses about healthy lifestyles and dietary habits.

  10. Mujeeb ur Rahamn says

    Eighteen percent of the adult population in Pakistan suffers from hypertension, according to the World Health Organisation (who). only 50 percent of them are diagnosed and that only half of those diagnosed are ever treated. thus only 12.50 percent of hypertension cases are adequately controlled. Healthy lifestyle and proper diet are the main key components. It is important to maintain a healthy weight, reduce “SALT” intake, reduce alcohol intake and reduce stress, take regular exercise and eat healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. This high burden of hypertension is due to lack of AWARENESS and insufficient treatment.

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