7 December 2017

Nigeria: Cardiovascular Disease On the Increase in Nigeria

It is worthy of note that a lot of fast food joints are springing up everywhere in Nigeria, with a continuous rural to urban drift. Living in the village has become unattractive and people seem to be moving to bigger cities and living in high rise areas where there are no gardens and farm lands.

For some of us who grew up in university staff quarters, we were so privileged to have gardens on our back yard where we grew wholesome fruits and vegetables, all were organically farmed without any artificial enhancements or modifications.

Fast-forward to 2017, the average young man/woman in Nigeria loves to 'eat out' and sees this as a thing of class or affluence.

Street food is actually a poor way of cooking, all over the world, restaurants that serve quality homemade foods are expensive to afford.

The Ministry of Health has to do something about the CVD risk posed by eating unhealthy food.A lot of people do not go for their annual check up. Some sudden cardiovascular deaths in some parts of Nigeria are attributed to spiritual attack or law of karma where someone is presumed to have been struck dead by the gods.

Some deaths which have occurred after intensive /rigorous sexual exercise have been attributed to law of karma or some sort of juju.Scientifically speaking, most cardiovascular deaths do not give warning signs, like stroke and heart attack.

We ought to be engaging in annual blood pressure checks especially for those over 40 years.

A comprehensive annual health check should include six monthly/yearly tests for patients with High blood pressure, full blood count(FBC), Urea and Electrolytes (U&E), Thyroid Function Test (TFT), Liver function test (LFT), serum lipid levels, serum glucose levels, glomerular filtration rate (GFR).

As we get older, our risk of developing cardiovascular increases. Generally, people with high CVD risk should modify their diet and engage in physical activity.

A lot of executives sit down in their offices for meetings for not less than eight hours a day. This is something that we have to be weary of, as too much sedentary lifestyle can lead to increased weigh gain, risk of developing heart attack and stroke in the future.

According to the WHO Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) Fact sheet (Updated May 2017), CVDs are the number one cause of death globally.

An estimated 17.7 million people died from CVDs in 2015, representing 31 per cent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke.

Over three quarters of CVD deaths take place in low and middle income countries. Out of the 17 million premature deaths (under the age of 70) due to no communicable diseases in 2015, 82 per cent were in low and middle income countries, and 37 percent were caused by CVDs.

Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioural risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol using population-wide strategies.

People with cardiovascular disease or who are at high cardiovascular risk (due to the presence of one or more risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidaemia or already established disease) need early detection and management using counselling and medicines, as appropriate.

The most important behavioural risk factors of heart disease and stroke are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol. The effects of behavioural risk factors may show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, raised blood glucose, raised blood lipids, and overweight and obesity. These "intermediate risks factors" can be measured in primary care facilities and indicate an increased risk of developing a heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other complications.

Cessation of tobacco use, reduction of salt in the diet, consuming fruits and vegetables, regular physical activity and avoiding harmful use of alcohol have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, drug treatment of diabetes, hypertension and high blood lipids may be necessary to reduce cardiovascular risk and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Health policies that create conducive environments for making healthy choices affordable and available are essential for motivating people to adopt and sustain healthy behaviour.

We can see from the fact sheet above that there are human determinants in the risk of cardiovascular disease and we all have.

The government needs to establish healthcare centres on a local level basis to tackle this risk. Citizens need to imbibe a healthy culture in all that they do, spanning from choice of food, physical activity, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, to mention but a few.

Efuribe is a pharmacist and an advocate of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

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