Navigating through a cardiovascular catastrophe

“We are on the brink of cardiovascular catastrophe,” says Dr. Osman Faheem, Consultant Cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Karachi.

Dr. Faheem graduated from AKUH with an MBBS in 2002 and has since trained at various hospitals in the US in interventional cardiology and structural diseases.

We sat down with Dr. Osman Faheem to talk about the relationship between diet and heart disease (01:09), angina and the progression towards a heart attack (01:48), the correlation between stress and heart disease (03:22), tools and tests for diagnosis (04:33), importance of health checkups? (05:06), probability of developing heart disease in women vs. men (06:00), the impact of technology in cardiovascular medicine (06:48), challenges facing the health sector in Pakistan (07:37), Pakistan’s research productivity (08:10), and ethics of medicinal practice in Pakistan (09:37).

“It [Pakistani food] is very heavily based on things that are not good for you.”

One in four Pakistani is either obese or overweight, an appalling ratio that spells the end of 46 lives every hour in Pakistan — making heart-related diseases the country’s leading cause of death. Dr. Faheem asserts that it is high time for us to adopt a more active lifestyle that is supplemented by a healthier diet.

Dr. Faheem illustrates the progression of heart disease as an inflammation in the body that causes cholesterol to form within the arteries of the heart, creating an obstruction that reduces blood flow eventually translating into the symptoms of angina such as chest pain.

“Chronic prolonged stress in one’s life clearly correlates with heart disease.”

During his conversation, Dr. Faheem acknowledged the adverse impact of stress on a person’s cardiovascular system. He further emphasized the importance of dissipating stress through exercise, which could fend off heart-related diseases.

“If you’re in your late 30s or 40s… you should get an annual physical [examination], with a primary healthcare physician.”

Dr. Faheem also stressed on the importance of ethical practice by doctors in the field who are at times preconditioned to ‘cut corners,’ due to limited resources.

Moreover, as a firm appreciator of technology and its instrumental role in the field of cardiology, Dr. Faheem spoke highly of the development in computerized imaging and 3D-printing which have collectively improved the diagnostic capability of doctors.