Sunday, 3 December, 2023

Heart Of The Problem

Until a few decades ago, prevalence of cardio-vascular ailments was quite low in Nepal, especially in the rural areas. The reason obviously was simpler and healthier lifestyle. Today, people’s lifestyle has changed drastically. So have the cases of the diseases related to heart and blood circulation known as cardio-vascular diseases. In recent times, the disease has covered ever larger areas, population and wider age groups. This is a global trend that has emerged as worrying issue for the government health authorities, medical experts and people in general. In Nepal, though exact survey-based figures of cardiovascular cases are lacking, it is estimated that around 600,000 people are suffering from it. There is no denying the fact that occurrence of this non-communicable disease is rising. Surprisingly, young children between 5 and 10 years of age are joining this list of sufferers.

If we look at the past scenario in Nepal, majority of the people used to live in the rural areas and were engaged in farming. Though the rural life was full of hardships while compared to the urban standards, the physically active life kept the people away from cardiovascular diseases. Occurrence of such diseases was even rare in children. Those were the days of mostly organic farming and the people were not as consumerist as of today. Agricultural products were not commercialised and farming used to be subsistence based. Use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides was not as widespread as today. Thus, healthy eating, coupled with highly active physical, social and cultural life kept the people both physically and mentally fit.

Today’s lifestyle of the people is different. People have stopped growing their own cereals, vegetables and fruits in their farm, let alone in the backyard. Rural people are migrating to the urban centres where the life is sedentary and the food they eat is mostly processed in factories. For the purpose of supplying to the large number of consumers living in the towns and cities, foodstuffs are produced in bulk amounts. In absence of strict market monitoring and quality control, date expired, adulterated and substandard food items are reaching the innocent consumers.

Due to use of pesticides without the advice and supervision of concerned experts, commercially produced vegetables laced with hazardous level of toxins reach our kitchens. Such food items coupled with sedentary lifestyle are contributing to the occurrence of cardio-vascular and other non-communicable diseases. Add to that the family discord, cut-throat competition for employment and financial worries and the situation is sure recipe to mental tension that causes high blood pressure and hypertension.

High salt and sugar contents in food are blamed for triggering or worsening blood pressure. But the addition of these substances is increasing in the processed foods. Spending long hours on screens, be that of computer, mobiles phones or television, is also blamed for sleep disorder that ultimately leads to hypertension and heart troubles. Thus, quality of food, eating habits, physical activities and mental peace are determining factors in cardio-vascular diseases. Medical experts emphasise to avoid junk food, staying away from smoking and a lot of physical exercise for heart health.