Even as COVID-19 pandemic continue to rage on, Nigerian Cardiac Society (NCS) says the heart is the organ of the body most hit by COVID-19, warning that eight out of every 10 deaths in Nigeria is now due to diseases that affect the heart such as stroke and heart attack.

Nigerian Cardiac Society President, Dr Okechukwu Ogah in a release to mark the 2020 World Heart Day stated that 17.8 million deaths occur in 2017 due to cardiovascular disease such as stroke and heart attack, with estimates indicating the cases to increase to over 23 million by the year 2030 due to many factors, including COVID-19.

Dr Ogah stated that like COVID-19, cardiovascular disease spares no race or gender and cuts across all socioeconomic strata and it disproportionately affects low and middle-income countries like Nigeria with 8 out of every ten deaths occurring in these countries.

He declared, “Unfortunately, for several reasons, the heart is the hardest hit. Firstly, persons with COVID-19 and pre-existing cardiovascular disease are among those who develop severe adverse consequences of the infection and are at the highest risk of death.

“Secondly, coronavirus infection can result in cardiovascular disease in persons without prior heart disease, and they may potentially suffer from long-term damage to the heart. Lastly, the scare of the virus made many patients, including those with heart disease, to stay away from hospitals, even when it was expedient to do so, further compromising their health.”

According to him, many Nigerians fall prey of cardiovascular diseases due to behavioural issues such as lack of physical exercise, tobacco smoking, consumption alcohol, consumption of unhealthy diets rich in salt and saturated fats, and low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.

He declared: “These behavioural risk factors may eventually lead to other cardiovascular risks such as high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood lipids/cholesterol (dyslipidaemia), overweight and obesity and diabetes. In fact, three out of every ten adult Nigerian have high blood pressure.

“To maintain good health, one must be mindful of the choices we make in our daily living. Making the right decisions does not only keep you healthy today but also prevent premature deaths from stroke and heart disease.”

Dr Ogah, however, said reducing cases of stroke and heart disease in Nigeria require the concerted efforts of all stakeholders to ensure individuals imbibe heart-healthy lifestyle choices like quitting smoking, engaging in physical activities and eating right go a long way to prevent and maintain good heart health.

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