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Surge in Heart Disease Deaths and Hospitalizations in Sri Lanka Linked to Unhealthy Lifestyles, Says Health Expert

April 19, Colombo (LNW): During a press briefing held yesterday at the Health Promotion Bureau, Dr. Sherine Balasingham, Consultant Community Physician of the Health Ministry’s Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) division, highlighted a concerning rise in deaths and hospital admissions from Ischemic heart diseases in Sri Lanka. Dr. Balasingham attributed this troubling trend to several lifestyle factors, including poor dietary habits, smoking, alcohol use, insufficient physical activity, stress, and air pollution.

Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, involves the narrowing of coronary arteries leading to a reduced blood supply to the heart muscle. This condition has been the leading cause of death in Sri Lanka over the past decade, with more than half of all deaths in government hospitals in 2020 being attributed to this disease. Additionally, cerebrovascular diseases, which impact blood vessels and flow in the brain, ranked as the fifth leading cause of death that same year.

Globally, cardiovascular diseases claim nearly 18 million lives annually, making it the number one killer worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Dr. Balasingham stressed the importance of preventive measures, advocating for dietary modifications such as limiting salt intake to no more than 5 grams and sugar to 30 grams per day. She also emphasized the benefits of quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables, and engaging in regular exercise.

Dr. Balasingham called for robust health policies that support accessible and affordable healthy choices, which are crucial for encouraging and sustaining health-promoting behaviors among the public.

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