MEDICAL experts describe heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and kidney failure as cardiovascular diseases that often result in deaths.
They observe that because of multiple malignant effects of the diseases on human health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) rates them high among the leading causes of deaths globally.
The organisation says that no fewer than 17.5million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2005, representing 30 per cent of all global deaths while the diseases killed 17.3 million people in 2008.
Cardiologists have also expressed concern about the organisation’s statement that more than 80 per cent of deaths arising from cardiovascular diseases occur among low and middle income earners.
According to them, the conclusion of the organisation that more than 23 million people worldwide could die of the diseases before 2030 should not be taken for granted.
They, therefore, call for collaborations among the stakeholders in health sector across the world to evolve proactive methods of fighting the diseases via advocacy, prevention, effective diagnosis and treatment.
They enlighten the public that cardiovascular diseases occur when cholesterol builds up in arteries and contracts the vessels through which the blood circulates.
They further explain that in some instances, the contraction in the vessels can be heightened to the extent that it causes chest pain and disrupts breathing.
They assert that when the vessels are eventually blocked and the blood can no longer circulate well, cardiovascular diseases will occur.
The cardiologists insist that factors that predispose people to the diseases include the presence of bad cholesterol and high level of sugar in the blood, smoking and inadequate intake of fruits, among others.
They, nonetheless, observe that in some cases, cardiovascular diseases are traced to family history and old age, expressing optimism that 80 per cent of cardiovascular disease related deaths is preventable via adequate medical attention.
But Prof. Olumuyiwa Odusanya, an expert in community and primary health care, observed that apart from the factors identified to predispose people to the diseases, most of the diseases occur due to economic, social and cultural changes.
He opined that the increase of the diseases in Nigeria and other developing countries was due to prevalence of risk factors and lack of access to early interventions.
“These diseases have not only denied people access to long life, but also have immeasurable impact on the economy of nations,’’ he said.
Irrespective of these different views on the causes of the diseases, Dr Dike Ojji, a cardiologist with the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, advised the public to go for regular check-ups.
He said people should find out the position of their blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol level, among other predisposing factors, through adequate medical check-ups.
The cardiologist explained that medical experts had also identified unclean environment and infections as other factors that could provoke cardiovascular diseases.
He said people with excessive body weight were also likely to have high blood pressure and sugar level that could cause the diseases.
He, therefore, urged the public to cultivate the habits of reducing excessive intake of soft drinks and carbohydrates.
“Take a lot of vegetables, fruits, eat fish, chicken without the skin and avoid smoking, stay away from alcohol and intake of much salt,’’ he said.
Ojji said any person above 40 years of age should check his or her blood pressure at least twice a year to ascertain his or her health status.
According to him, regular check-ups will help in early diagnosis of high blood pressure and sugar level for proper intervention.
Sharing similar sentiments, Dr Okechukwu Ogah, the Commissioner for Health in Abia, expressed concern about the number of deaths arising from cardiovascular diseases.
The commissioner called for aggressive awareness campaigns on early detection of the diseases via regular medical check-ups.
“We need to increase awareness on the diseases because some patients of high blood pressure lack adequate information on what to do in such situation,’’ he said.
He, nonetheless, observed that cardiovascular diseases could be detected early in some ways that required the attention of medical experts.
“In the case of stroke for instance, the sufferer may experience neck stiffness and unconsciousness; and at a stage, part of the body may be paralysed.
“Indications of heart attack can include severe chest pain, excessive sweating and weakness of the body while the onset of heart failure may present difficulty in breathing of the sufferers,’’ he said.
Ogah insisted that high blood pressure had continued to be a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
He urged people to stay active and by accessing information on how to prevent any of the cardiovascular diseases. (NAN)

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