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Healthy heart could beat COVID-19, say experts

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Health experts have reiterated that COVID-19 could be beaten through preventing heart diseases and change of lifestyle. As a result, they emphasise the need to shun such risk factors as smoking, alcohol intake, excessive consumption of fatty foods and salt, as well as sedentary lifestyle, among others. In their stead, people should embrace proper management of such debilitating diseases as hypertension and diabetes, eat healthy food with low salt, low fat and high fibre, maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes twice weekly.

In addition, they urged Nigerians to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, fibre-rich whole grains and fish, preferably oily fish, at least twice a week, nuts, legumes and seeds, as well as eating some meals without red meat. They also recommended low-fat dairy products and skinless poultry.

This call was made at an event organised by Cardiac Community, sponsored by Three Crowns Milk to commemorate the World Heart Day titled: Heart Dialogue 2020, held at Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.

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Deputy Director, Non-communicable Diseases Control, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Abimbola Oshinowo, explained that heart disease refers to a disorder of the heart, and is part of cardiovascular diseases.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are disorders of the heart and blood vessels, and include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and rheumatic heart disease, among other conditions.

She said: “Heart disease is a form of non-communicable disease, which results from damage to all or parts of the heart, damage to the blood vessels of the heart (coronary arteries), or a poor supply of nutrients and oxygen to the heart. Some heart diseases are genetic, developed because the person has genes that make him/her susceptible to the disease, while some are congenital, which means the person is born with the heart defect.”

Consultant Cardiologist at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Dr. Akinsanya Olusegun Joseph, said heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when the heart muscle does not properly pump blood, as it should. “Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in the heart, coronary artery disease or high blood pressure gradually leave the heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently,” he said.

Olusegun stated that this year’s theme: ‘Be a heart hero, make a promise’ is a global call for individuals to make a promise that they would live healthy lifestyle and also educate those around them on the importance of healthy lifestyle to ensure that heart-related diseases are reduced in the society.

“Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but treatments can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and help the individual live longer,” he said.

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He explained that one of the ways to avert heart failure is by preventing and controlling conditions that cause heart failure, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.

He stated that heart failure signs and symptoms include, shortness of breath, when the individual exerts himself/herself or when lying down, fatigue and weakness, swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, rapid or irregular heartbeat, reduced ability to exercise, persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm, increased need to urinate at night, swelling of abdomen ascites, very rapid weight gain from fluid retention, lack of appetite and nausea, difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness, sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus and chest pain, if the heart failure is caused by heart attack.

Olusegun advised people to see their doctors, when they have signs or symptoms of heart failure. However, these signs and symptoms may be due to other possible causes, which include life-threatening heart and lung conditions.

He said: “If you have a diagnosis of heart failure and if any of the symptoms suddenly gets worse or you develop a new sign or symptom, it may mean that existing heart failure is getting worse or not responding to treatment. This may be also the case, if you gain 5 pounds 2.3 kg or more within a few days. So, it is important to contact your physician immediately.”

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