Context – World Heart Day: Heart Disease Making Inroads In Rural Areas Due To Changing Food Habits, Life Style

Until some years ago, heart disease was taken as the health issue primarily connected to urban lifestyle. But as time changes, it has now emerged as the problem in the rural setting as well.

As clinicians said, the rising trend of consuming pre-prepared food in rural areas is one of the reasons behind rising cases of heart disease there. Local agricultural activities have also slowed down there due to several reasons.

Cardiologist Dr Prakash Raj Regmi said the fast food, packaged and canned foods have their dominance in the rural life with the expansion of road network.

The regular intake of such food is not good for health. Instant noodles, cold drinks, fast food, the so-called junk food etc have its implications on village life, contributing to increasing cases of heart-related issues.

In case of urban life, people have become relatively aware of their health and importance of seeking medical advice time to time. The health awareness level is relatively low in rural areas.

Besides, the consumption of locally produced sub-standard alcohol, tobacco, and tobacco products, pre-prepared food and lack of the physical exercise have made the situation worse, according to Regmi, who is also the former Chair of Nepal Heart Foundation.

The urban people are comparatively more health conscious these days and have developed the habit of physical exercise and workouts. As he advised, regular heart checkup is necessary for timely cure and prevention of probable heart risk as heart disease shows no symptoms in initial phase.

“In those days, when rural areas had no access to road facilities, walking was the indispensable part of people’s life. Agricultural works were solely based on traditional tools requiring physical labour to operate. But the innovation and availability of motors and modern agricultural tools brought a significant change in people’s life.

The use of physical labour was largely replaced by modern equipment. Now youths don’t entertain works requiring physical labour,” he said.

Cardiologist Dr Om Murti Anil said that patients from rural areas also used to come. Heart problem is seen due to hypertension along with other reasons, he added.

Dr Anil opined, “People even without any health risk also die of heart attack due to anger. Heartbeat, blood circulation and clotting tendency of hyperactive persons is affected.”

Saying hyperactive person suffer from many health problems, he mentioned that positive thinking is important for a healthy heart.
The Cardiologist shared, “Different types of hormones are produced in our body due to influence of negativity in our mind. It affects blood circulation system.”

Cardiologist Dr Shankar Laudari of Chitwan Heart Hospital said that as per the data of World Health Organisation, 17.9 million people lost their lives due to heart problem across the world in a year.

Out of the deaths from non-communicable diseases in the world, 32 per cent is from heart disease. Out of the deaths from heart disease, 85 per cent is from heart attack.

Cardiologist Dr Laudari further said, “Of the people suffering from heart diseases, 75 per cent are from poor and low income background.

” The highest number of people suffering from heart diseases is from China, India, Russia and America respectively in the world.

The heart disease seen in 250 million people in 1990 across the world, it has now reached 523 million till 2021.

Similarly, out of the patients suffering from non-communicable diseases in Nepal, 27 per cent is of heart disease.

He mentioned that 12 per cent of the heart patients lost their employment due to this disease. There is a data that out of 100,000 population in Nepal, 569 men and 479 women are found suffering from heart diseases, shared Dr Laudari.

Out of the patients suffering from heart diseases, 16 per cent suffer from heart attack and six to 10 per cent suffer from rheumatic heart disease. Similarly, four to10 per cent suffer from heartbeat problem while four to seven per cent suffer from heart disease by birth.

Among the main causes of heart diseases, high blood pressure accounts for 25 to 40 per cent, diabetes accounts for six to 10 per cent, bad LDL cholesterol accounts for 20 per cent, smoking accounts for 20 to 25 per cent and obesity accounts for 15 to 20 per cent.

Nepal comes in the third position among the countries of South Asia having much problem of cardiac diseases.

He said one can keep many heart diseases at bay by changing the diet and lifestyle. He suggested controlling one’s body weight, doing regular physical exercise, avoiding fried and roasted food items as far as possible and limiting intake of foods like rice, potato and sweets which are rich in carbohydrate.

He also advised keeping one’s diabetes and cholesterol level under control and reducing the intake of oily and fatty foods as well as meat. The cardiologist stressed on adopting healthy lifestyle including going to bed in time, consuming fruits and vegetables free from pesticide and stopping smoking and drinking alcohol.

According to him, the number of heart disease patients coming to the hospital from rural areas has increased in the recent years.

Created by the World Heart Federation, World Heart Day informs people around the globe that CVD, including heart disease and stroke, is the world’s leading cause of death claiming 18.6 million lives each year, and highlights the actions that individuals can take to prevent and control CVD.

It aims to drive action to educate people that by controlling risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided.

World Heart Day is a global campaign during which individuals, families, communities, and governments around the world participate in activities to take charge of their heart health and that of others.

Through this campaign, the World Heart Federation unites people from all countries and backgrounds in the fight against the CVD burden and inspires and drives international action to encourage heart-healthy living across the world. We and our members believe in a world where heart health for everyone is a fundamental human right and a crucial element of global health justice.

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