Following the just concluded World heart day celebration, Nigerians have been urged to quit smoking, reduce alcohol intake, take proper care of diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, eat healthy, exercise for at least 30 minutes twice a week, and maintain a healthy body weight to prevent heart diseases.
Heart diseases have been described by health professionals as a disorder of the heart, and they make up what is widely known as cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular diseases are diseases associated with disorders involving the heart and blood vessels.
Common examples of cardiovascular diseases include cerebrovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and rheumatic heart disease, and many others.
Senior Lecturer and Consultant Public Health Physician at Department of Community Health and Primary Health Primary Health Care Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), Dr. Modupe Akinyinka, said while speaking to the Guardian that some heart diseases are mostly genetic (developed as a result of person having genes prone to the disease), while others are congenital (persons born with a specific heart defect).
She said: However, there are risk factors that predispose one to heart diseases. Some are non-modifiable, such as increasing age, being male, having a family history of heart disease, genetic factors and having a Type A personality.
“The modifiable risk factors that result in heart diseases include having high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, intake of alcohol, being overweight or obese, having diabetes, living a sedentary lifestyle, such as sitting at work and eating a lot of junk foods.
To prevent heart diseases, people should develop a healthy lifestyle, exercise daily, eat more fruits and vegetables, treat illnesses promptly, limit alcohol intake, and strive to maintain a healthy body weight, she explained further.
She said: “People should eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium (that means avoiding fast food such as meat pies). As part of a healthy diet, people should eat plenty of fiber-rich whole grains, fish, preferably oily fish, at least twice every week, nuts, legumes and seeds and also try eating some meals without meat. They should choose lower fat dairy products and eat skinned poultry.”
While Nigeria can now treat some major heart diseases thanks to policy changes and technology, people can themselves prevent them from happening in the first place by making some lifestyle changes.