Control the increase in heart disease
Medical experts have decried the increase in heart disease cases as well as deaths from the disease in the country. Speaking on this year’s World Heart Day, celebrated on September 29, 2021, they traced the causes of the increase in smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and air pollution. According to them, heart disease is the number one killer in the world, killing an estimated 18.6 million lives each year, followed closely by cancer.
They also pointed out that 80% of premature deaths from heart disease could be prevented if the top five risk factors: smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and air pollution are controlled. Experts are also of the opinion that stress and anxiety, substance use disorders, medications, supplements, herbal remedies, and existing heart damage or disease also contribute to the disease. increased cases of heart disease. In Nigeria, the current economic hardship caused by mass poverty, insecurity and job losses can predispose many people to stress and anxiety.
The increase in the prevalence of heart disease in Nigeria is worrying. It is now said to be the most common cause of death in adults. Hypertension, according to reports, affects as many as 10 million adults in Nigeria, a number that is frightening. Unfortunately, only about a third of this population is on treatment. Recent studies in Lagos also show that hypertension is the most common underlying disease in people infected with COVID-19. Cardiovascular disease has been linked to around 11% of the more than two million noncommunicable disease (NCD) deaths in Nigeria each year. It is also responsible for the high rate of disability and morbidity that accompanies strokes and heart attacks. Due to the high cost of treating the disease, many people with the disease cannot get adequate medical care. It is an issue for the government to resolve.
As the disease is said to be on the rise, we urge the government and other stakeholders to rise to the challenge. In this case, there is an urgent need to educate the public more about the disease, especially the causative factors, prevention and treatment options. The disease information campaign should be carried out in all 774 local communities. We advise members of the public to lead healthy lives and make sure they see a cardiologist at least once a year for check-ups.
They should also monitor their blood pressure and blood sugar for diabetes. Nigerians should make a habit of seeing their doctor regularly for medical check-ups, especially those aged 40 and over. This is the only way to avoid a major health crisis that can lead to death. In view of the brain drain in the health sector, we urge the government to invest more resources in training more cardiologists in the country. With a population of over 200 million, Nigeria will need the services of more cardiologists now and in the future. Over the past 18 months, the Nollywood industry has reportedly lost some cast due to heart disease and other related ailments.
We advise Nigerians to avoid lifestyle factors that predispose them to hypertension and other related heart diseases such as smoking, heavy drinking and others. However, they should adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, engaging in moderate physical activity, and avoiding stress. Government at all levels should work with stakeholders, especially non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in healthy heart advocacy and campaigns, to reduce the incidence in the country.
Heart disease should be integrated into the Basic Health Care Fund (BHCPF) and social health insurance benefits of the States and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Specialized cardiac care hospitals are to be established in the six geopolitical zones of the country to make cardiac care accessible and affordable for all Nigerians. Currently, Nigerians travel abroad for the treatment of many heart conditions, which should normally be treated in Nigeria.
We want the narrative to change. It is good that the National Health Law of 2020 contains the government’s intention on heart health. That the provisions of the ACT be fully implemented so that the nation can meet the World Health Organization’s goal of 25% reduction in heart disease mortality by 2030.