A Consultant Cardiologist and the Chief Medical Director of Lagos Executive Cardiovascular Clinic, Dr. Folasade Olaitan Alli, has raised the alarm over increased death rate among Nigerian youths due to heart-related problems, saying it calls for serious concern.
She said while many Nigerians do not check their blood pressure to know their numbers, the attitude was more common among youths, leading to increased number of the age group being hypertensive.
According to her, “we have many Nigerians coming down with heart-related diseases, and the number one cause on the list is hypertension. High blood pressure is now on the increase, in fact it has gotten to an epidemic level whereby people drop dead easily because they don’t check their blood pressure. Some, when they are told their blood pressure is high, they will say ‘I reject it,’ even younger Nigerians.”
She said it was a great concern to know that younger Nigerians between the age range of 28 to 30 were the most affected as a result of lifestyle.
“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 folks, starting from 40, but today, this epidemic has shifted backward by, at least, a decade. Several younger Nigerians are dying 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”.
While explaining the relationship between hypertension and lifestyle, she said, “The type of food and drink we take, high fatty food items, junks, chocolates, foods with high calorie intake, among others can negatively affect the blood pressure of a person.
“The blood vessels are very pliable but when you have bad fat that have settled on the wall of the vessels it becomes thick, then hardens up. So when the heart pumps, it is pumping against a high resistance; so all these contribute to blood pressure rising,” she explained.
However, she pointed that hypertension could also be hereditary. “Where hypertension runs in family, hereditary comes to play in addition to lifestyle. But we now have cases whereby there is no family history and people develop it,” she added.
She advised that people should imbibe the culture of going for medical check ups and be up to date as absence of symptoms does not mean there was no problem or that one was okay. “Hypertension is heavily age-related, therefore; any individual from age 28 should make sure he/she check his/her blood pressure regularly.
“Check your health once in a year by doing a comprehensive general health assessment during which some abnormality in your body can be detected and corrected without complications. The person can even be having a hole in the heart. Yes, there are some holes in the heart that are discovered at 28. Some are also detected in the womb.
Dr. Alli disclosed that hypertension and other heart-related diseases among adults and children can now be easily detected, controlled and maintained using expertise and modern equipment such as the 4D Echo, Ankle Brachial Index (the first of its kind in Lagos State), and other advanced technologies that are in use at Lagos Executive Cardiovascular Clinic.
Alli is a member of the Society for Quality in Healthcare in Nigeria (SQHN), a fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, and an International Associate Member of the American College of Cardiology.