WHO seeks substantial reduction measures

Kathmandu, September 28

World Health Organisation has called on countries to take action to reduce heart diseases among women on the occasion of World Heart Day.

A press statement issued here today by WHO Regional Director for southeast Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh to mark World Heart Day celebrated on September 29 every year, said cardiovascular diseases have been major health problems among women.

The diseases are mostly under-recognised and under-treated.

Lifestyle elements such as excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol, obesity, physical inactivity, as well as other health aspects such as elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are the major risk factors causing heart diseases.

According to the statement, exposure to household air pollution due to the use of solid fuels for cooking substantially increases the risk of heart diseases among women in the southeast Asia Region.

“Cohesive action and collaboration are needed beyond the health sector to provide a heart-healthy environment as well as heart-healthy choices for women to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” it said adding, “Health-care providers should also be alert in recognising and managing the risk of cardiovascular diseases among women.”

The statement added that cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, claim 17.5 million lives a year globally. In WHO Southeast Asia region, cardiovascular diseases cause an estimated 3.7 million deaths annually, one-fourth of all deaths. One third of these deaths is premature and occurs among those aged less than 70 years.

Kathmandu-based Norvic International Hospital said about seven to eight per cent of the urban population in Nepal suffers from this deadly disease. Majority of premature deaths due to cardiovascular diseases can be prevented through simple measures such as consumption of a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and by managing stress, suggested the statement.

“The theme for World Heart Day 2015 – ‘Healthy heart choices for everyone, everywhere’ is a reminder of the impact that our environment can help our ability to make the best choice for a healthy heart,” said Dr Singh in the statement, adding, “It is a call to all sectors of government and society to create heart-healthy environments and provide heart-healthy choices for all individuals, where they live, work and play.”

The statement said that WHO region for southeast Asia has set a target to reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25 per cent by the year 2025 and has developed a regional action plan to achieve this target.

Inclusion of NCDs in the post-2015 agenda for sustainable development is a turning point and should add further momentum in reducing cardiovascular diseases as well as other NCDs, it said.