The Chief Medical Director of the Lagos Executive Cardiovascular Clinic (LECC), Dr. Folasade Alli, has raised the alarm over the rate at which Nigerians are dropping dead in their prime as a result of heart-related problems.
Dr. Alli disclosed that the problem is rampant among the youths in their 30s.
“Unfortunately, there have been instances of young Nigerians dying with heart-related diseases, and number one cause on the list is the silent killer, hypertension. High blood pressure is not only on the increase, but has also gotten to an epidemic level. In my earlier years of practice, it (hypertension) was mostly an issue of the mature and old folk starting from 40, but today, this epidemic has shifted backward by, at least, a decade. Several younger Nigerians are dying today of the same problem. The first issue with the younger generation is the false and unwise belief that they are young, and thus, do not need to regularly check themselves; then the second issue is the fact that they are not taking preventive measures and, of course, the lack of public information on what these measures plays a major role. When told their blood pressure is high, some reply ‘I reject it’, but guess what? It is indeed high – there is nothing to reject because it is happening. The bottom line is that, this attitude needs to change”.
The 53-year-old cardiologist added: “In those days, we used to have a definition of 40 but now we see 28 to 35 year old patients. We need to be our brothers’ keeper, we need to protect one another, and protect parents from unnecessary heartaches. My advice to the youth and young adults around their latter 20s and 30s is to engage with the literature on the cardiovascular epidemic sweeping across our country, maintain a relationship with a cardiologist, and develop healthy attitudes that can help combat hypertension. What you eat and drink matters. Adopt a healthy diet and reduce salt content in your food. Increase physical activity and maintain a healthy weight. Quit smoking and maintain a healthy attitude towards alcohol intake or simply avoid drinking alcohol altogether. Your stress level matters a lot too – for example, think about the health implication before you take a serious business decision – don’t attempt to whack a round brick into a triangular hole, it will stress you out! Also, we need to rid ourselves of nonchalant attitude towards our health. Together, we can avoid premature deaths.
“Take food for instance. We have good fat and bad ones and these bad ones are the ones that stick to the walls of blood vessels. They thicken the blood vessels thereby causing the heart to pump harder. In simpler words, the buildup of junk in our blood vessels causes the heart to work harder than it ought to, and remember that already, the heart is the hardest working organ in the body.
The blood vessels are very pliable but when you have bad fat that have settled on the wall of the vessels the vessel becomes thick, it hardens up. So when the heart pumps, it is pumping against a high resistance; so all these things contribute to rising blood pressure.”
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