KARACHI- Expressing concern over the growing incidence of cardiac illnesses, which is now more prevalent in the younger population, health experts shared that heart-related mortality was estimated to have increased from 19 per cent in 2016 to 29pc in Pakistan now. They were speaking at a press briefing held in connection with World Heart Day here at the Karachi Press Club (KPC). The speakers described hypertension as the leading cause of stroke and heart-related illnesses, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease. “Cardiac morbidity is on the rise in Pakistan on account of the rapid increase and early onset of hypertension,” Prof Muhammad Nawaz Lashari said, adding that cardiovascular disease has become the leading cause of death in Pakistan, with heart attacks often occurring in people under the age of 30. The experts also linked the spike in cardiac illnesses to diabetes and obesity and said one major reason behind these health issues was a sedentary lifestyle and consumption of fast foods, which often contained high levels of saturated fats and sugar. According to them, there are 33 million diabetes patients in Pakistan, making it the third-largest country with diabetes in the world after China and India. Pakistan was ranked 84th in terms of obesity 15 years ago. Today, it has attained 8th place in the list of the top 10 countries with a large obese population. “Women with diabetes are also more likely than men to die from cardiovascular illnesses. So, that old belief and myth that women are less likely to have cardiac diseases has vanished now, as women are now as prone to developing cardiac problems as men,” Dr Abdul Rasheed said.