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Prior to the World Heart Day, scheduled to be celebrated on 29 September globally, the Bangla daily Prothom Alo and Bangladesh Cardiovascular Research Foundation (BCRF) jointly organised the roundtable. Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Limited supported the event.

This year, the global community is celebrating the day with the theme, "use heart to connect" to people with heart disease.

National professor Brigadier General (retired) Abdul Malik joined the roundtable virtually and addressed the event as chief guest. He said a ‘heart-to-heart’ approach is needed to make people aware about the risk of heart disease. “Awareness building will not be enough. People have to practice the measures preventive to the heart attack epidemic,” he urged.

BCRF president professor SM Mustafa Zaman, teacher of interventional cardiology at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), presenting the keynote paper, said the young population of Bangladesh were now at high risk of heart disease because of indolent but stressful lifestyle, smoking and unhealthy diet, and more.

Citing shortage of cardiologists and auxiliary medical supports, particularly at the grassroots level, and lack of public awareness and coordination among the service providers, Mustafa Zaman said a master plan as a guideline for hospital management and policy making is crucial to make cardiovascular treatment available and sustainable in the country.

“A mobile phone application can help a heart patient in a remote place get emergency medicines at critical times and survive for further crucial treatment at the tertiary hospital,” he added, referring to digital technologies as the best means to connect patients in need with the cardiologists.

Professor Robed Amin, line director of the health service directorate’s non-communicable disease control unit, said children nowadays are unconsciously consuming excess salt in their foods, risking their heart of disease.

He said a national-level programme like the EPI can help make the healthy heart campaign popular.

Former chairman of BSMMU’s cardiology department, and professor of clinical cardiology, Sajal Banerjee, said ischaemic heart disease caused by narrowed coronary arteries has become a new threat. He added that better coordination among the health service providers could reduce heart disease-related mortality rate.

Professor Abdullah Al Shafi Mazumdar, secretary general of Bangladesh Cardio Society, said three-tier management: early detection, formal medication and rehabilitation, is required to deal with heart disease epidemic.

Dipal K Adhikary, associate professor at cardiology department of BSMMU, advocated for an equitable distribution of modern cardiovascular care across the country.

Clinical and interventional cardiologist Professor Abdul Wadud Chowdhury, head of cardiology department at Dhaka Medical College, said higher secondary students with paramedical training could provide emergency response onset of a heart attack.

He urged people older than 40 years to get health check-up at least once a year. He also requested the media to inform people that some primary cardiovascular medicines are available free of cost at the community health clinics.

United Hospital’s chief cardiology consultant said Momenuzzaman availability of thrombolytic medicines at community health clinics can save hundreds of patients from suffering cardiac failure. He recommended that every health facility in the country has a ‘chest-pain corner’ to provide emergency care.

Ibrahim Cardiac Hospital and Research Institute chief executive officer Professor MA Rashid said the country needs more cardiology counselors or educators to assist the experts to sensitise people to lifestyle modification and healthy dietary exercise.

United Hospital’s senior cardiology consultant Fatema Begum said heart disease-related mortality rate of women is higher than the male patients. She said delayed detection of heart disease, stressful lifstyles, consumption of oral contraceptives and other factors are put women at risk of severe heart disease.

Professor AKM Fazlur Rahman, chairman of cardiology department under BSMMU, requested the government to subsidise chest therapy at a grassroots level.

The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases director Mir Jamaluddin said availability of emergency services at a periphery level would reduce the burden of patients at the country’s lone tertiary hospital for heart patients.

Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Quayum, Eskayef Pharmaceuticals executive director (marketing and sales) Mohammad Mujahidul Islam and executive general manager (marketing) Binay Das also addressed the roundtable moderated by Prothom Alo assistant editor Firoz Choudhury.

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