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KARACHI: About 47 people are dying due to heart problems every hour in Pakistan, most of them because of living an unhealthy lifestyle, including smoking, eating unhealthy food and avoiding physical activity, health experts, here Friday, said, adding that over 65 percent people dying due to cardiovascular disease in the country were aged less than 60 years.

“Unhealthy lifestyle is turning us into a ‘diseased nation’ as 47 people are dying due to heart attacks every hour in Pakistan. These are the reported deaths and the number could be much higher as many deaths are not reported. Our sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food choices are killing our people at very young age,” Prof. Dr. Shahzad Ali, Vice Chancellor Health Services Academy (HSA) Islamabad said while speaking at the lifestyle medicine conference in Islamabad.

Dozens of national and international health experts are attending the three-day ‘3rd International Lifestyle Medical Conference 2022’, organized by the Riphah International University (RIU) in collaboration with Pakistan Association of Lifestyle Medicine.

The conference was aimed at promoting physical inactivity, and other healthy lifestyle practices to reduce disease burden in Pakistan.

The Health Services Academy Vice Chancellor maintained that exponential rise in the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) due to unhealthy lifestyle can be judged from the fact that around 44 percent of women in Pakistan are anaemic, which means that their bodies don’t have enough healthy blood cells and when they become pregnant, their babies are also born underweight and premature, becoming an easy prey to different ailments.

Similarly, over 50 percent women in Pakistan are also obese or overweight as they consume unhealthy diet and avoid physical activity, Prof. Khan said, adding that it also indicates that 25 percent of Pakistan’s population is suffering from various lifestyle diseases including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, mental ailments and other health issues.

“We can’t treat such a large population for their entire life. It is beyond our capacity. The only option we have is to change our lifestyle and adopt lifestyle medicine, which actually get people of all kinds of therapeutic drugs and medicines”, he said and called for collaboration between HSA and Riphah International University to collaborate in the area of public health and lifestyle medicine.

Lifestyle medicine specialist Dr. Shagufta Feroz who is running a drug-free clinic for last 17 years, said consuming healthy diet, resorting to physical inactivity, having proper sleep, taking measures for stress reduction and rest, avoiding addictive substances and having social connect are the main pillars of lifestyle medicine.

“Lifestyle medicine is the evidence based medical specialty that uses predominantly whole food plant-based diet, adequate sleep, stress management, regular exercise/ physical activity, avoidance of risky substance use and social support to prevent, treat and reverse non-communicable disease”, she added.

Dr. Shagufta maintained that lifestyle medicine is about treating the root causes of diseases with plants not pills. 'We can also avoid the adverse side effects of prescribed drugs,' she said, adding: 'The leading causes of 'estimated years of life lost' are commonly associated with lifestyle factors.'

She advised the citizens and patients about evidence-based alterations to diet or exercise to prevent and treat disease. She said the World Health Organization predicts that now two-thirds of all diseases worldwide are the result of lifestyle choices.

She maintained that the Harvard Institute of Lifestyle Medicine (ILM) is at the forefront of a broad-based collaborative effort to transform the practice of medicine through lifestyle medicine. This critical transformation is motivated by research indicating that modifiable behaviours - especially physical inactivity and unhealthy eating - are major drivers of death, disease, and healthcare costs, she added.

Chancellor Riphah International University Hassan Muhammad Khan, former Vice Chancellor of the Riphah University Islamabad Prof. Anis Ahmed, Dr. Regan Stiegman, Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, Dr. Mobashir Bhatti, Khawaja Mazhar Iqbal and others also spoke.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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