Kanu Heart Foundation has over the past 19 years supported Nigerians with heart issues. Its founder, Mr. Christian Nwankwo Kanu, believes with healthy diets and exercise, heart related issues can be prevented. Chinazor Megbolu writes
Nwankwo Kanu, a former Captain of the Super Eagles of Nigeria and an award-winning African Footballer of the Year has dedicated the past 19 years of his life giving succour to those with heart related problems.
During a walk to mark this year’s World Heart Day, tagged: ‘My Heart, Your Heart, Our Hearts’ organised by the Kanu Heart Foundation (KHF), held in Lagos recently, Kanu said Nigerians need to know what to do in other to prevent heart issues, adding that one of the ways is a healthy walk.
He said: “So, this World Heart Day, it is Nigerians’ opportunity to make promises for their hearts. These promises should include cooking and eating healthy meals, exercising, encourage children to be more active, as well as say no to smoking. For us to live longer and better lives, one has to make little changes. By making these changes we can live better and more heart-healthy lives.”
On why he chose to help people with heart issues, Kanu said it was a passion he developed since he went under the knife two decades ago when he was diagnosed of a heart problem while playing active football.
Kanu called on Nigerians to cut down on sugary beverages and fruit juices, adding that they should take water as well as unsweetened juices instead.
He said: “Swap sweet, sugary juice for fresh fruits as a healthy alternative. It is advised we eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. They can be fresh, frozen, tinned or dried. Keep the amount of alcohol you drink within recommended guidelines. Try to limit processed and prepackaged foods that are often high in salt, sugar and fat and make your own healthy school or work lunches at home.”
He however, urged participants to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activities five times weekly or 75 minutes vigorous intensity activity spread over a week.
“Be more active everyday – take the stairs, walk or cycle instead of driving, exercise with friends and family. When you do it with family and friends, you will be more motivated and,” he said.
Kanu enjoined Nigerians to shun to any form of smoking, as it could cause heart issues, adding that within two years of quitting smoking, the risk of coronary heart disease can be substantially reduced.
He also said second hand smoking was also risky, noting that s nonsmoker was more likely to have healthy people around him than those who smoke since second hand smoking can also damage the heart.
He said: “If you are having trouble stopping, ask for professional advice and ask your employer if they provide smoking cessation services.”
Meanwhile, the Coordinator, KHF, Mr. Onyebuchi Abia said so far, over 560 heart disease patients have successfully undergone open heart surgeries in India and Nigeria fully sponsored by the foundation.
He said: “Cases with heart problems are increasing every day. That is why the foundation needs more funding from well-meaning individuals, corporate organisations and government at all levels. We have over 250 people on waiting list for surgeries hence the cry for help.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Titans Empire Building International, Mr. Jerry Patrick Onuokaibe said his organisation was working hand in hand with KHF for his vision of giving to less privileged people in the society.