A Peep Into The Hearts Of Ignoramuses About Heart Attack
There is no denying the fact that technology has over the years revolutionised our world and daily lives. Technology has created amazing tools and resources, putting useful information at our fingertips on what heart attack is all about, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid our lives being cut short.
Though we have more access to information that pertains to heart attack than any generation before us, so much so that information by each passing day keeps pouring in from experts and researchers. The abundance of heart ailments related information are readily available on the cyberspace that can easily be accessed with the aid of computers, smartphones and even accessed offline on bookshelves. Paradoxically, the plethora of such information generally has not resulted in an increased awareness of what the ailment is all about. Without any scintilla of hyperbole, mere mention of the words “Heart Attack” instantly instills morbid fear in anyone that heard it. It is such a terrible sickness that it has notoriously earned itself the ignominious sobriquet, “The Silent Killer”.
For instance, the media is replete with headlines that cut across, “Man slumps, dies at Lagos airport”, A passenger, identified as Chukwuma Anthony Ezeh, on Wednesday slumped and died at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), ...”, “Tragedy as man slumps, dies after seeing burnt store” “Man slumps, dies after friend dupes him”, “An Onitsha businessman, Ikechukwu Ezeanyagu, has died in his room after he allegedly lost N36m to his business partner ...”, and “Unidentified man slumps, dies in Ikeja while jogging”.
There is no denying the fact that the foregoing catalogue of headlines obtained through the use of Google Search Engine by this writer are self-explanatory on the issue which he is set to express in this context. Again, it is not a misnomer to say that when anyone dies suddenly that a heart attack often gets the blame.
To grasp the enormousness of its morbid impact on humanity, all over the world, May 17 is yearly set aside for the commemoration of World Hypertension Day. It is a day set aside for the purpose of creating public awareness on hypertension and encourage citizens of all countries to prevent and control this silent killer that is also referred to as the “modern epidemic”. For the sake of clarity, prolonged, untreated hypertension can also lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, and kidney disease.
At this juncture, it is germane for anyone to ask about the ignorance which this writer is set to express his view on in this piece. To this end, it is equally germane to say that the ignorance which comes in various dimensions is not farfetched.
For instance, obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity is not just a cosmetic concern. It is a medical problem that increases the risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
Paradoxically, obesity is ignorantly seen by many as evidence of good living. If anyone is putting on excessive weight, and suddenly began to shed weight, there is no denying the fact that not few people will be asking him or her, “Were you sick?”, or most embarrassingly, “What is happening to you?” This is even as the issue has severally being discussed by died-in-the-wool gossipers.
Again, walking, which is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease is ignorantly misconstrued to be an exercise necessitated by poverty and lack. For instance, in Lagos, when a neighbor or a colleague sees you trekking, say along Ikorodu road or Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, there is every tendency for him or her to conclude that the trekking was necessitated by lack of transport fare.
To buttress how healthy it is to walk, findings from the Honolulu Heart Program, which targeted physically capable elderly men, suggest that the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced with increases in distance walked. Combined with evidence that suggests that an active lifestyle reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in younger and more diverse groups, this suggests that important health benefits could be derived by encouraging the people to walk.
In a similar vein, medical journals are replete with reportage on research findings that linked carbohydrates to be one of the causes of heart disease. The researchers were all unanimous in their findings that a diet high in carbohydrates raises blood glucose and insulin levels, increases the level of fatty substances called triglycerides in the blood and reduces the levels of “good” cholesterol. They consistently agreed that these changes would be expected to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The ignorance that is inherent in the foregoing can be seen in our predilection to eating foods that contain carbohydrates such as “Eba”, “Pounded Yam”, “Amala” and Rice among others.
Also, there is a research that is posted on virtual space that has it that eating red meat can put anyone at risk for coronary heart disease. Researchers based their findings on 43,272 men in the United States, with an average age of 53, from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The researchers noted in the publication that none of these men had cardiovascular disease or cancer when they enrolled in the study.
As explained, the observation began in 1986, and participants filled in a detailed diet questionnaire every 4 years thereafter. Over the 30-year period, 4,456 Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) events were documented, and 1,860 of those were fatal.
The study concluded that for every one serving per day, total red meat was associated with a 12 percent higher risk of CHD. An 11 percent higher risk was seen for unprocessed meat, and processed red meat presented a 15 percent higher risk.
Intake of one serving per day of combined plant protein sources, which include nuts, legumes, and soy, was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of CHD.
The level of ignorance that is inherent in the foregoing is so thick that it can literarily be sliced with a knife. Without doubt, an average Nigerian cannot do without meat in the soup or plate of rice he or she is served with. Not being served with meat is seen as if it is an abomination, and it is often taken as a slight, especially when a younger person serves an elder. Buying food at a restaurant without meat can automatically make one to be seen as a poor person. The rate at which Nigerians consume red meat can be glimpsed from a statistics made available by Knoema (an online Research outfit that specializes in the provision of comprehensive source of global decision-making data in the world). According to Knoema, “In 2018, number of slaughtered cattle and buffaloes for meat for Nigeria was 3.38 million thousand heads. Number of slaughtered cattle and buffaloes for meat of Nigeria increased from 850,773 thousand heads in 1969 to 3.38 million thousand heads in 2018 growing at an average annual rate of 3.70%.”
As it is often said in the Christendom that “My people perish for lack of knowledge…”it is expedient in this context to suggest that people can be preventing high blood pressure by having a healthy lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle means eating a healthy diet. To help manage blood pressure, it is pragmatic people limit the amount of sodium (salt) that they eat and increase the amount of potassium in their diet. It is also important to eat foods that are lower in fat, as well as resort to eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Also of help in the lowering the chances of experiencing heart attack is getting regular exercise as it can help to maintain a healthy weight and lower blood pressure. Cardiologists have advised that people should try to get moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 2 and a half hours per week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise for 1 hour and 15 minutes per week. For the sake of clarity, aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, is any exercise in which your heart beats harder and you use more oxygen than usual.
Also, limiting alcohol intake is also of importance as drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Cardiologists advised that men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women only one.
In a similar vein, not smoking of cigarette goes a long way in reducing the risk as smoking raises blood pressure and puts smokers at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. The key advice in this context is, “If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, talk to your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit”.
Also of importance is understanding how stress can be well managed. Learning how to relax and manage stress can improve emotional and physical health and lower high blood pressure. Stress management techniques include exercising, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating.