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 ‘ Doctor 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.]]>