World Heart Day (WHF)
By Steve Dada
Against the believe that cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects only older men, the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) has warned that women and children also have their fair share of the burden of the dangerous killer disease.
The Chairperson, National Organising Committee, World Heart Day (WHF), Dr. Funmi Akinloye who revealed this at a press conference on the WHF, noted that “CVD is commonly considered as older persons’ and men’s disease, stressing that women only underestimate their CVD risk, adding that half of 17.3 million annual deaths occur in women globally.
She added that, children are particularly at risk, since they have little control over their environment and can be limited in choices to heart-healthy life and warned that heart healthy life style for children should start from care for pregnant women.
Akinloye said it is the reason why the theme of the WHD 2012 is ‘One World, One Home, One Heart’ revealing that the WHF and its over 100 sister members will make 2012, the year of cardiovascular disease prevention among women and children. “Women/mothers are often the (gate keeper) to their family’s health hence a key influencer in keeping their hearts healthy.”,
She went further to say that WHF and her members will make 2012 relevant to and resonate with all audiences e.g. policy makers, health care providers, corporate and the general public.
Talking about the role of policy makers, Akinloye said it ties into wider public health policy goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and economically, heart healthy lifestyle can prevent significant costs associated with CVD. To the health care providers, children according to her are the most vulnerable members of the society and health care providers have a duty towards their care, pre and post-natal care drastically impacts CVD risk for children.
For the corporate bodies, she noted it is an established fact that familial health and wellbeing is crucial for a smooth running and effective workforce, particularly during this challenging economic environment, but said, there is rising prevalence of the risk factors for CVD in Nigeria, with latest data (2012) showing the risk factors as follows: hypertension 25 to 30 per cent, diabetes mellitus 12 per cent, elevated blood cholesterols 23 per cent and ischemic heart disease eight per cent.
She expressed worry that these silent killers are killing Nigerian citizens in their prime, which she attributed to unhealthy lifestyles of the 21st century and considered inimical to heart health, but however stressed that the good news is that these diseases are preventable.
‘’By adopting simple resources to minimise the risk factors, we are urging everyone to adopt heart-healthy behaviours. Women in particular as the gate keepers of the home can guide their children to adopt heart-healthy behaviours from a young age and protect the next generation by reducing the number of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke,” she noted.
Akinloye said a new multi-national survey revealed the extent of misconceptions about when is the right time to start taking action to prevent cardiovascular disease, stressing that, heart disease can affect people of all ages and population groups, as the risk begins early in life through unhealthy diets, lack of physical activity and exposure to tobacco.