Martins Ifijeh

A Consultant Cardiologist, Lagos Executive Cardiovascular Clinic, Dr. Folasade Alli, has stated that with proper knowledge on prevention, management and treatment of heart diseases, people with heart attacks can still live healthier and longer lives.

She said despite being the leading cause of death among adults and aged Nigerians, its consequences could be averted for those who are aware of the risks, symptoms, prevention, and for those who are cautious of their lifestyle.

In a statement made available to THISDAY, she said, people in such conditions need toknow what heart disease means. “Heart disease refers to any condition that causes the heart not to function appropriately. For example, atherosclerosis heart disease results from the build-up of plaques that clutters the arteries and vessels, thereby causing the heart to pump against high resistance.

“Other examples of heart diseases include hypertension, congenital heart defects, coronary heart disease, inflammatory heart disease, ischaemic heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, and so on. All these heart conditions cause the heart not to pump well, which can cause heart failure, and even heart attack. If not monitored well, they can lead to cardiac arrest, and worst, sudden cardiac death.

“Nigerians need to know if they are either at risk of developing a heart disease, or at risk of complicating existing heart-related condition.”

While stating that anyone and everyone was at risk of heart diseases, she said, those especially prone to it were unborn babies in the womb (foetus); adults from their 30s, and the aged; youths in their 20s with excessive drinking and/or smoking habits; individuals with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and kidney disease; individuals with a family history of heart-related diseases; and women experiencing their menopause,” she noted.

According to the LECC boss, that of an unborn baby occurs when when the mother is not controlling or monitoring existing diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, when the mother is not keeping up with immunisation schedule, when she drinks alcohol or smokes, when she takes hard drugs, among others.

“For children, adults, and aged folk, smoking or dwelling for long in smoke-filled environments, eating an unhealthy, salt-rich diet, non-compliance with prescribed medications, and physical inactivity, are all risk factors.”

She said symptoms of heart diseases vary depending on the kind of individual and his or her heart condition. “For many, chest pain and discomfort in the arms, upper abdomen, or shoulder are the first signs. For others, it may be pain or discomfort in the face and neck area, including the jaw and tooth ache; physical weakness and light headedness, breathlessness, gasping, panting, shortness of breath, cold sweat, swollen ankles and foot,” among others.

The cardiology doctor said positive lifestyles could help prevent it. “These include, maintaining healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and foods low in saturated fats; eating of whole grain products, fish, beans, and lean meat; avoid smoking and alcohol; maintaining a healthy weight. Have you checked your BMI lately? If no, check and talk to a doctor about your weight if it doesn’t feel right; exercise, among others,” she added.