|A team of Heart Specialist led by Professor Kamal Adeleke (2nd Left) at Ilisan-Remo, Ogun State based Tristate Heart & Vascular Center|
We have already noted that overweight or obesity is as a result of eating more food than the body needs and consequent storage or deposition of the extra food in the form of fat in various parts of the body. Although we cannot see it, a lot of such fat is also deposited in the inner walls of blood vessels, especially arteries. As fatty materials are deposited in arteries, the lumen or hole of the arteries gets smaller. The more weight that the individual puts on, the more fatty materials that are deposited on the inside of the arteries and the narrower the arterial channel or lumen becomes.
|How blood circulates in the body system|
When any particular artery gets narrower, less amount of blood is able to pass through it to convey oxygen and nutrients to the tissues that it normally supplies. Waste products from the tissues cannot be adequately removed. The tissues affected therefore cannot function properly. They may even stop functioning at all, depending upon the severity of the obstruction. This situation more commonly applies to smaller branches of arteries. Of particular interest in this case are the two arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles known as coronary arteries and their branches.
The coronary arteries are more commonly and seriously affected by reduced blood supply because the heart muscles to which they supply blood are about the most hardworking and most important muscles in the body. The heart starts to beat when the fetus is about four months old in the womb and beats about 70 times per minutes and that is over 100,000 times a day continuously throughout one’s life time. When the heart’s muscles stop working, the person dies.
When the coronary artery is unable to supply adequate amount of blood to the heart’s muscles, it is known as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and any physical exaction by the individual may cause sharp chest pain due to inadequate oxygen to the heart muscles and a pile up of waste products in the muscles. The chest pain may be felt extending to the left arm and/or the lower jaw. The pain is usually relieved by rest or medication. The person may also have this kind of pain without physical exertion.
|A Heart Surgery Patients undergoing treatment|
Sometimes, the built up fatty material in the coronary artery causes blood to clot inside the vessel. The clot often increases in size until the particular vessel is blocked, stopping blood supply to the part of the heart that is normally supplied by that artery. This causes more severe pain that is not relieved by rest. The pain is usually accompanied by a feeling of dizziness, difficulty in breathing, having the urge to vomit or vomiting, and a feeling of doom or that something serious about to happen. This is heart attack! If not relieved, the heart’s muscles affected usually die in 15 to 20 minutes and the victim may die soon if a large area of the heart is affected or if there is no immediate medical intervention.
|Nigeria's Billionaire Business man Jimoh Ibrahim (M) is a big man in size and belly|
Heart attack usually occurs suddenly, either during physical or emotional exaction or while the individual is at rest without a particular immediate cause. In industrialized societies, over 40% of heart attack victims die. In the case of Nigeria where immediate medical attention or reliable statistics are hardly available, the rate of death from heart attack is anyone’s guess, hoping that some survive. Over time, one person can suffer more than one heart attack.
How to suffer a heart Attack
|First Civilian Governor of Bayelsa State (Nigeria) died of Heart Attack in 2015|
Given certain conditions, any person is likely to suffer a heart attack. Such conditions are primarily associated with development of Coronary heart Disease (CHD), which in turn may end up in a heart attack or series of heart attack. The conditions are: overweight, high cholesterol level in the blood, sedentary lifestyle, stress, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, family history of heart attack, age and gender. While the presence of each of these conditions can lead to a heart attack, a combination of two or more of the conditions greatly increases the risk for any individual. Each of these conditions will be discussed separately, so that the reader will know whether any of them applies to self or anyone close. If you consider any of the conditions to apply to you or someone close to you, refer to the section on “How to Avoid Heart Attack” (Will be posted later on this blog)so that you will know the best actions to take in order to avoid the disaster of a heart attack.
Overweight is Enemy No 1
|Nigeria's Billionaire Business Man, Chief Mike Adenuga is on the 'Big Size' side.|
The way overweight leads to heart attack has already been discussed in a previous section. In effect therefore, the so-called “big man belle” or any other evidence of overweight should not be something to be proud of or happy with. Instead, it should be viewed as evidence of possible Coronary heart Disease (CAD) and subsequent heart attack. There are so many other serious health problems associated with overweight (to be discussed later) that it should be realized that overweight is in fact not only a disease by itself but the mother of many other diseases.
High Level Cholesterol in the Blood is Enemy No 2
|Young Nigerian Entrepreneur & Only son of Tasty Fried Chicken owner, Mr. Bunmi Adedayo died of Heart Attack as a result of Obesity|
Cholesterol is a kind of fat that is found mainly in animal foods. There are two kinds of cholesterol. They are:
1. Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad cholesterol”.
2. High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) or “good cholesterol”.
While cholesterol is generally required by the body to build cell walls and for other functions, the so-called “bad cholesterol” or LDL is the part of cholesterol that is deposited inside blood vessels as plaque or fatty deposits. “Good cholesterol” or HDL on the other had moves cholesterol away from blood vessels to the liver where it is utilized. HDL has opposite effect to LDL in discouraging fatty build-up inside blood vessels. LDL is therefore of particular interest in this context.
|Taking Care of Heart related ailments could be challenging|
We have already discussed the fact that apart from obvious places like under the skin and in the abdomen, fat is usually deposited inside of blood vessels as plaque. Bad cholesterol is most easily deposited inside arteries. When deposited inside arteries, bad cholesterol very easily damages the inside of the vessel walls and easily causes blood to clot in the vessel.
In the coronary arteries that supply blood to heart muscles, bad cholesterol is the commonest cause of clotting, blockage of blood supply to heart muscles and eventual heart attack. Cholesterol is mainly got from fat from animal protein foods, such as meat, eggs, cheese, chicken and some types of sea foods. Some animal sources, such as pork or bacon and eggs contain excessively high bad cholesterol more than others. That means that anyone who consumes a lot of animal sources of proteins is likely to consume and have a lot of bad cholesterol.
In addition to food sources, cholesterol is also manufactured in the body by the liver. That means therefore, that some of the cholesterol in our blood stream may not be related to what we eat. The amount and nature of the cholesterol that our bodies make depend on our genes. Therefore, for a small proportion of people who have a high level of cholesterol in the blood, eating high cholesterol food may not necessarily be responsible.
A high level concentration of bad cholesterol in the blood is an indication of high risk of its being deposited in coronary arteries and eventual heart attack in the individual, even if the person is not overweight. This means therefore that people who are affluent enough to consume a lot of animal sources of protein like meat, eggs, cheese and shrimps which are usually more expensive and preferred by most Nigerians, are often at higher risk. The so-called good food that most of us cherish and only the affluent can afford plentifully has more than monetary price to it – a price in the form of high level of cholesterol in the blood. This is why Nigerians who are well-to-do are particularly prone to heart attack and early death, unless they understand this danger and take appropriate actions to avoid it.
Generally, cholesterol level below 200 is regarded as desirable for good health. A level of 200 to 239 is regarded as somehow high and over 240 too high; the lower one’s blood cholesterol level, the better.
The good news about bad cholesterol level in people’s blood is that it can be measured through a simple blood test in the laboratory. So it is possible through such simple test for the doctor to identify the persons whose cholesterol level is too high and therefore at risk of suffering heart attack sooner or later. Such people can therefore take appropriate measures to reduce their cholesterol level, as discussed under (Subsequent post on this blog) “How to Avoid Heart Attack” section of this text.
Sedentary Lifestyle is Enemy No 3
|Former Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha lived a sedentary life in Aso rock and Died of Heart Attack on June 8, 1998|
Regular exercise does not only strengthen muscle tone and make the joints lubricated and flexible. It is also essential for a healthy heart and efficient circulation of blood. When exercise or physical exertion reaches the pint that the person has to pane or breathe heavily and sweat, the heart is forced to work extra hard. During physical exertion, blood pressure is temporarily raised to ensure adequate blood supply to muscles and vital organs involved, such as the heart itself, lungs, liver, brain and kidneys. In particular, the heart muscles are strengthened in the process, making them healthier and more efficient. In addition to improving the health of the heart and the circulation of blood, exercise can ensure that more of the calories or energy that would otherwise be stored as fat is used up for the needed physical exertion. So exercise contributes to reduction of weight and hypertension, avoidance of heart attack and improvement of overall physical and mental health of the individual.
If however a person simply eats and sits most of the time without any exercise or adequate physical exertion, the extra calories consumed will be converted to fat, some of which will be deposited inside arteries, including coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, as already explained. As people grow older, say from about age 35 years, they tend to engage less in physically exacting activities while maintaining their level of food consumption. In fact, with improving socio-economic level, people are usually able to afford more to eat, especially the more expensive animal protein foods. As already noted, this is the source of high cholesterol in blood, which is particularly responsible for the narrowing of coronary arteries and subsequent heart attack. Routine exercise reduces the accumulation of bad cholesterol in blood. Unfortunately, among Nigerians, it is those who need exercising most that almost always fail to exercise.
This is a major problem for affluent Nigerians most of who live sedentary life. As such if a Nigerian is regarded as:”having made it”, it appears that his or her lot is to enjoy life, take it easy and avoid physical exaction. This includes exercises which most Nigerian middle class would claim that they are too busy to have time for. Exercising is in fact not taken as an important part of the Nigerian life. There is hardly any provision in our private life or in public policy for encouraging regular exercising.
|Billionaire Mike Adenuga (M) A Nigerian Business Mogul is on the 'Big Size' as a BIG MAN|
Facilities for citizens to engage in routine exercises are rare and so are proper equipment and accessories. Although large expanse of space abounds in Nigeria, large parks with paths for jogging are virtually none existent in cities and towns in the country. The narrow congested roads, where they exist in the country, often lack enough sidewalks for pedestrians, let alone for jogging. There are very few private clubs and associations and other games. The cultural thinking with regard to physical exercise seems to be that exercising and associated vigor are for young ones, adolescents to be exact, not responsible adults who have too much to do with their limited time and energy. The irony is that more than the youths, adults and those advanced in age need these exercises for their health, vitality and continued quality of life.
|Lagos Business Man, Kunle Onignajo, husband of popular stream stress Maufechi died of Heart related diseases in America couple of years ago|
There is no sector of the country’s economy that has been able to realize the need for recreation and exercising as important aspects of our individual and national health. Certainly, not many entrepreneurs have realized the economic potential of this aspect of our lives. For example, equipment and facilities for various forms of exercise which are necessary for individual health and fitness are hardly available for a few Nigerians, let alone the millions who need them. This is currently an aspect of our economy which is greatly neglected and yearns for creative profitable entrepreneurship and investment.
(From the Book; “Early and Sudden Death; the Price of Affluence among Nigerians” Read “7 Deadly Agents of Heart Attack” tomorrow on Asabeafrika)