Around 40,000 babies in Pakistan born with CHD every year: Experts

ISLAMABAD: Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist Shifa International Hospital (SIH) Dr Zaheer Ahmad has said that heart disease is difficult enough when it strikes adults, but it can be more challenging in children.

He said one in 100 children are born with a congenital heart defect and around 40,000 infants in Pakistan are born with congenital heart diseases (CHD) every year and 15,000 of them might need treatment in first year of life.He was addressing a seminar organized here on Thursday to mark World Heart Day. Doctors, medical students, patients and people from all walks of life attended the seminar. Free consultancy, screening, informative booklets and prizes were given to the participants.Dr Zaheer Ahmad said that heart disease is difficult enough and some circumstances which may increase the risk of having a baby with a heart condition are viral infections during the first three months of pregnancy, diabetes, taking certain medicines.He said some congenital heart defects are genetic (they can be passed on from a parent to a child through the genes). He discussed the symptoms of heart disease in children i.e, Rapid breathing, Bluish skin, lips, and nails, Fatigue or difficulty feeding, Poor weight gain, Sweating, especially while feeding.Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist SIH said, ‘Atherosclerosis’ increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke.It is unusual for children or teenagers to have a heart attack or stroke as a result of atherosclerosis. In some children, atherosclerosis worsens rapidly increasing the risk of heart disease. Screening for cholesterol problems is recommended once for children ages 9 to 11 years and again at ages 17 to 21 years.

Dr Zaheer gave the Take home message, “Heart disease in children is not uncommon, early recognition of symptoms and there are many successful treatment options available for children with heart conditions. Keep good dental hygiene and we need more awareness.”

Consultant Cardiologist and Head of Cardiology Department SIH, Dr Asad Ali Saleem said that heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death among adults aged between 40 to 60 years. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are amongst the greatest public health challenges around the globe. Heart diseases are very common, costly, disabling and deadly. People must get their heart checkup regularly in order to avoid possible heart diseases, said.He emphasized on keeping blood cholesterol level under control. He said that a specific amount of cholesterol was essential for human body but when it exceeds from the required level, it creates plaques.

“This plaque is called atherosclerotic plaque, which narrows the human arteries,” he informed the audience. Resultantly, the plaque obstructs smooth blood flow and causes clotting of the blood in artery. “It is a very serious condition as disturbed blood flow causes heart attack,” he warned.Consultant Cardiologist SIH Dr Saeedullah Shah advised people to cut down calories from food and adopt more active lifestyle so that they could prevent many cardiovascular and other diseases including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart failure, heart attack, obesity, and diabetes.He said cardiovascular disease is caused by disorders of the heart and blood vessels, and includes coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, peripheral artery disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure. He stressed on quitting smoking to prevent CVDs and also for early cure of patients with CVDs.Dr Shah recommended the participants to achieve energy balance and a healthy weight, limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption from saturated fats to unsaturated fats.He also advised them to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and pulses, whole grains and nuts, limit the intake of free sugars, limit salt consumption from all sources and ensure that salt is iodized.