A LEADING heart surgeon in Asia has warned Fijians to look after their hearts.
Dr Rajesh Kaushish of Sahyadri Hospitals in India yesterday expressed concern over the extent of heart diseases he found in people in Fiji. He said the diseases he found in patients he operated on so far were worse than those in India.
By yesterday afternoon, he had completed 17 heart bypass surgeries and five more patients would be operated on by tomorrow.
"Patients here have very bad heart diseases. I used to think that India was bad but Fiji is worse as far as heart diseases are concerned," he said in an interview with The Fiji Times yesterday.
"The arteries are blocked at some places. One person I operated on had an artery blocked at four different places." Dr Kaushish described heart diseases in Fijians as "extensive", saying people had multi-vessel diseases or badly damaged vessels. Patients he had performed bypass surgeries on were in their 40s, 50s and 60s.
Asked what could be the reason for the extensive heart diseases in Fiji, he said: "It has to be environmental and dietary."
"I think people should watch it. They should take corrective actions now as far as their hearts are concerned.
"There needs to be a modification in lifestyle, the diet, cessation of smoking and physical activity."
Dr Kaushish said of the 17 patients operated on so far, 15 were Fijians of Indian descent. He said Fijians of Indian descent were more prone to heart diseases than the iTaukei.
"I think it's diet-related in Indians and people have to look after their diet. Smoking is also very bad for the heart and those smoking should stop."
Health Ministry's national adviser on NCDs Dr Isimeli Tukana said Dr Kaushish's observations confirmed that Fijians needed to be conscious of their lifestyle.
"Dr Kaushish is speaking from evidence. He is cutting up the patients and seeing what is in their hearts while people like me focus on lifestyle and preventing heart problems," Dr Tukana said.
"Fiji's hope is in changing the lifestyle. The message to Fiji is to keep our lifestyle normal by consuming less sugar, salt and fats. If we can do that, then we should be able to control NCDs including heart problems."
The team of doctors from Sahyadri Hospitals is carrying out heart surgeries at the CWM Hospital from October 13, with the cost of a surgery ranging from $20,000 to $25,000.