President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday urged to create awareness about cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and adopt a healthy lifestyle to reduce the death rate due to heart diseases. He stressed that adopting preventive measures could help reduce the risk of disease, which would also decrease the burden on the national health care system. The president made the remarks while addressing a symposium organized by an Islamabad-based private hospital here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr to mark the ‘World Heart Day – 2022’. This year World Heart Day is being commemorated with the theme of ‘Use Heart for Every Heart’ to urge the people to think differently, make the right decisions, help others and reach as many individuals as possible to help achieve cardiovascular health for every heart. The president, in his address, highlighted that 25 percent of deaths in Pakistan were due to the CVDs and globally 18.6 million deaths were caused by them. The main causes of CVDs included hypertension, diabetes, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, obesity and physical inactivity. He stressed that the CVDs could be prevented by changing the lifestyle; consuming a healthier diet consisting of legumes, fruits and vegetables; reducing red meat, fatty and deep-fried food consumption; quitting smoking, and playing sports. President Alvi emphasized the importance of educating the patients and the general public regarding preventive steps for countering the disease by repeating the messages through effective, impactful and persistent awareness campaigns. He said Pakistan should also prioritize the mental health of its people, which was highly underserved due to the insufficient number of psychiatrists and mental health care providers. The president underscored that the country’s population faced different levels of stress and mental diseases, resulting into increased heart ailments. He urged the society to take good care of every individual’s mental health by reducing stress, avoiding and managing stressful events, eliminating hate and backbiting in social conduct, and spreading love and care for friends, family, neighbourhood, humanity and nature which would help reduce mental stress and impact of the CVDs. He also urged the healthcare providers to improve their communication skills and ethics while dealing with their patients. The president said in the developing countries like Pakistan, the provision of medical care facilities was a major challenge. The government and the relevant departments were working effectively to improve the public health situation in the country with special emphasis on the prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases such as the CVD. He said with relentless and coordinated efforts, “we had managed the COVID-19 pandemic effectively and we can reduce the blow of CVDs by adopting a similar approach.” There was need to improve surveillance of the CVDs and their risk factors and redo health policies in line with the challenges faced by the nation, he added. President Alvi also stressed expanding the availability of resources, such as equipment and medicines, and developing open spaces for public use, besides urging the need for undertaking indigenous medical research, and the local development and manufacturing of machinery and equipment to reduce the cost of the treatment and lessen the burden due the import of expensive machinery. He said congenital cardiovascular diseases were widespread, which resulted in health conditions in infants and young children. He stressed that the health sector of Pakistan should conduct indigenous research and development in gene editing and manipulation, and embrace the developments taking place in the developed world to replace faulty genes with healthy ones to cure congenital diseases. The president also called upon the health sector to simplify the treatment procedures of CVDs so that marginalized and low-income strata of the society could also benefit from such facilities. He reiterated that the Pakistani nation had repeatedly demonstrated its resilience in the wake of massive natural disasters and external shocks like earthquakes, floods and COVID-19. The nation should display the same passion and make efforts for raising awareness to prevent the CVDs. The hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Haroon Naseer and Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon Dr Mahim Akmal Malik also spoke on the occasion. The hospital’s Medical Director Dr Mir Waheed explained the importance of commemorating the World Heart Day and said that awareness regarding the CVDs was important to reduce their load on the nation. Earlier, President Alvi distributed mementoes among the doctors of private hospital for effectively and compassionately serving their patients.