Heart Foundation calls for joint action against risk of heart disease


By Kemi Akintokun

Lagos, Sept. 29, 2020 The Nigerian Heart Foundation on Tuesday called on individuals, communities and the three tiers of government to take actions to reduce the risk of heart disease in the country.

President of the foundation, Malam Ismaila Shuaibu, made the call at the commemoration of the 2020 World Heart Foundation (WHF) Day in Lagos.

Naija247news reports that theme for the 2020 World Heart Day is “Use Heart to Fight Cardiovascular Disease”.

Shuaibu said: “WHF has a singular purpose of uniting the global health community to beat cardiovascular disease.

“This year, we are asking individuals, communities and governments to use heart to make better choices for society, loved ones and ourselves.

“The call to action is about using our head, influence and compassion to beat cardiovascular disease, the world’s number one killer.

“Today, the World Heart Day, over 100 countries are joining together to encourage individuals, families, communities and governments to take action to reduce the risk of heart disease, in spite of all our challenges, including COVID-19 pandemic.

“I urge everybody to join us, use our heart, and get involved to fight and conquer-the number one killer disease of our time, cardiovascular disease.”

According to him, as part of the measures to reduce the burden of CVD, the World Heart Federation and World Health Organisation (WHO) founded the World Heart Day (WHD) in the year 2000.

He said the WHF and WHO designated Sept. 29 every year as the Global date to raise public awareness about heart disease and their associated risk factors, including ways to promote cardiovascular health.

Shuaibu said that given the current situation, WHF was also calling for recognition and urgent protection of the frontline healthcare providers.

The president added: “World Heart Day is celebrated each year on Sept. 29 to raise awareness and mobilise international action against Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), the leading cause of death globally.

“It is the global initiative under which individuals, government and the entire heart community come together to engage in fun activities, increase public education and advocate for universal access to CVD protection, detection and treatment.

“Cardiovascular disease, which encompasses hypertension, heart disease and stroke are the major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the world’s number one leading cause of death and disability.”

He said, according to the 2018 WHO country profiles, NCDs accounted for 29 per cent of all deaths in Nigeria of which CVD, predominantly hypertension, is responsible for 11 per cent of all the NCD’s deaths.

Shuaibu said that most of the deaths occurred prematurely in persons below 70 years.

The president said that the COVID-19 pandemic had changed the world and facts on heart conditions.

He said: “First, people with COVID-19 and heart disease are among those with the highest risk of death and of developing severe conditions.

“Second, after the virus attacks, the heart might be severely affected, even in people without previous heart conditions potentially resulting in long-term damage.

“Finally, fear of the virus has already led to a sharp decline in hospital visits by heart patients for routine and emergency care.

“This World Heart Day is unlike any other that has come before.

“Public health is front and centre as societies face the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and the physical, emotional and economic toll it has taken. ”

According to him, almost a million lives have been lost to COVID-19 this year, and as a comparison, an estimated 17.8 million people died of cardiovascular disease in 2017.

He added that while patients stayed clear of hospitals, out of fear of catching the virus, their health had been compromised, even further.

Shuaibu said from July 2020 till Sept. 28 in Nigeria, 58, 324 people had been affected by COVID-19 with 1,108 deaths recorded.

According to him, Prof. Karen Silva, WHF President, said: “COVID-19 has created a perfect storm, in which those people with cardiovascular diseases fare poorly.

“Those at risk don’t seek the treatment they need to keep their hearts healthy.

“The hearts and the entire vascular system are in damage and we need to act now.

“The world has not experienced a global event of this scale in decades, today we have a unique opportunity to unite and mobilise our skills to use our heart to act.”

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