Not long ago, heart disease was regarded the exclusive preserve of the Westerners. But as the lifestyle of the Nepalis, especially the urban dwellers, increasingly resemble that of their cross-ocean counterparts, the country has also imported the culture of perpetual stress, dearth of physical activities and unhealthy food habit, which have, in turn, resulted in a five-fold increase in the number of heart patients in Nepal in the last two decades. The major factors contributing to declining cardio-vascular health of the Nepalis: smoking, junk food, tobacco products, stressful lifestyle, alcohol and rheumatic fever.
Treatment is expensive, costing anywhere from Rs 15,000 for minor heart surgeries to Rs 150,000 for major ones. The only viable option seems to be early detection and prevention. Just by checking the eating habit of children, for instance, their chances of developing heart diseases might be reduced significantly. It is also noteworthy that 80 per cent of premature heart attacks can be prevented through diet control, regular exercise and avoidance of tobacco products. Likewise, early detection and treatment of rheumatic fever would drastically reduce the incidence of malfunctioning hearts among kids. In this light, the best way to check the soaring number of heart patients is to institute a mass awareness campaign aimed at urging people to consume fresh food products, give up smoking and exercise on a regular basis. The amount spent on such campaigns will be minuscule as compared to the huge economic cost the country stands to incur owing to an unhealthy citizenry.