HEALTH MATTERS: How To Prevent Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in most advanced countries. It is also a major cause of disability. There are many things that can raise the risk of heart disease. They are called risk factors. Some of them cannot be controlled but there are many that can be controlled. Learning about them…”
Moroti Olatujoye
August 17, 2018 1:42 pm

Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in most advanced countries. It is also a major cause of disability.

There are many things that can raise the risk of heart disease. They are called risk factors. Some of them cannot be controlled but there are many that can be controlled. Learning about them can lower the risk.

According to a World Health Organization data, deaths caused by coronary heart disease in 2017 peaked at 76,410 representing 3.76% of total deaths which makes Nigeria to rank 90 in the world.

It is true to statistics that heart disease is the number six killer in Nigeria, reaching a peak of 150,000 deaths per year. This statistics is too high for a developing nation like ours.

This is the reason why the life expectancy for adult male Nigerians is placed at 50 years which means that a great majority of Nigerians die in their most productive age.

The heart like any other organ of the body is susceptible to wear and tear but if adequate care is taken and proper health care available, the incident of heart diseases and deaths related to it can be reduced to the barest minimum.

This high figure represents 73% of recorded deaths in the country as a whole. In the light of this frightening statistics, what are the factors that lead to heart disease and how and what can be done to curb it.

One of the problems encouraging the increase in heart disease across the country is the lack of equipment in most hospitals and where it exists, there is lack of maintenance of the equipment which in most cases is old and outdated.

The manpower is available and so is the requisite training. Nigeria is not short of manpower if not for lack of equipment.

It is disheartening to know that due to this, deaths caused by heart diseases have steadily been on the increase and in cases where surgery is required as treatment, heart related surgeries are very expensive even in public health facilities leaving only the rich with the option of travelling out of the country [medical tourism] to seek better medical attention.

Factors that lead to heart disease. There are a number of factors that leads to heart disease, these include the following:

–        Age: The risk of heart disease increases as one gets older. Men age 45 and older and women age 55 and older have a greater risk of developing heart disease.

–        Gender: Some risk factors that may affect heart disease risk differently in women than in men. For example, estrogen provides women some protection against heart disease, but diabetes raises the risk of heart disease more in women than in men.

–        Race or ethnicity: Certain groups have higher risks than others. Africans and some Asian groups have higher rates.

–        Family history: A greater risk of developing heart disease occurs if a close family member also had a heart disease at an early age.

How to lower risk of heart disease

There are many things a person can do to reduce or lower the risk of getting heart disease. They include:

– Control blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to get a blood pressure check regularly, at least once a week for most adults and more often if there is a case of high blood pressure. It is advisable to take steps, including lifestyle changes, to prevent or control high blood pressure.

– Keep cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. High levels of cholesterol can clog the arteries and increase a risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Lifestyle changes and medicines (if needed) can lower your cholesterol. Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. High levels of triglycerides may also raise the risk of coronary artery disease, especially in women.

– Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight or having obesity can increase the risk of heart disease. This is mostly because they are linked to other heart disease risk factors, including high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Controlling the weight level can lower these risks.

– Eat a healthy diet. Try to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Staying by this course can help to lower the blood pressure and cholesterol, two things that can lower the risk of heart disease.

– Exercise regularly. Exercise has many benefits, including strengthening the heart and improving your circulation. It can also help to maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these can lower the risk of heart disease.

– Put a lid on alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can raise the blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Both of those raise the risk of heart disease.

–  Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking raises the blood pressure and puts the person at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower the risk for heart disease. Talk with a health care provider for help in finding the best way to quit the smoking habit.

– Manage stress. Stress is linked to heart disease in many ways. It can raise blood pressure. Extreme stress can be a trigger for a heart attack. Also, some common ways of coping with stress such as overeating, heavy drinking and smoking are bad for the heart. Some ways to help manage stress include exercise, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful and meditating.

– Manage diabetes. Diabetes doubles the risk of diabetic heart disease. This is because over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage the blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart and blood vessels.

– Get enough sleep. Absence of sleep increases the risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. These three can raise the risk for heart disease. Adults need at least 10 hours of sleep per night. It is essential to have a good sleep habit and any deviation from that, the counsel of physician should be sought.

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