Minister Advocates Healthy Lifestyle to Combat Cardiovascular Disease in Nigeria

By, Edward Samuel, Abuja

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The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, has urged Nigerians to adopt healthy lifestyles and diets to prevent cardiovascular diseases and other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

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Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on World Hypertension Day, Prof. Pate emphasized the theme of the event: “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer.”

Prof. Pate, represented by Dr. Mike Akpan, highlighted the critical issue of hypertension, which affects over one billion people globally, accounting for more than 30% of the adult population.

He noted that in low and middle-income countries, hypertension is a leading cause of significant morbidity and mortality due to increased risk factors like tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, and harmful alcohol consumption.

“It is alarming that only 52% of those with hypertension are aware of their condition, 35% are receiving treatment, and less than 14% have their blood pressure under control,” Dr. Akpan stated.

He emphasized that public awareness, routine screening, early detection, and proper treatment are crucial in preventing severe complications such as heart disease, stroke, and chronic kidney failure.

The Minister highlighted government efforts over the years, including strategic interventions at various health care levels aimed at screening at least 80% of the eligible population and providing standard treatment to 80% of those diagnosed.

“This strategy aims to achieve sustainable blood pressure control in treated individuals and reduce premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases by 25%.

“Implementing the healthy lifestyle interventions specified in the National NCDs Multi-Sectoral Action Plan is also crucial.

“Patients on treatment should continue their medication and follow-up appointments as advised by their healthcare providers.”

The Minister and health experts advocate for regular physical activity, at least 30 minutes daily, avoidance of tobacco and second-hand smoke, abstinence from alcohol, and regular consumption of water to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

They also recommend a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, peas, beans, and lentils.

Other dietary recommendations include avoiding processed foods, limiting salt intake to less than 5 grams daily, reducing dietary cholesterol, and avoiding industrially produced trans-fats. Regular monitoring of blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels is also crucial.

Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), Resolve To Save Lives (RTSL), AstraZeneca, Population Services International, University of Abuja (UniAbuja) Cardiovascular Research Unit, and the Nigerian Heart Foundation supported the Minister’s suggestions and committed to assisting the Federal Ministry of Health in its efforts to reduce hypertension and other NCDs in Nigeria.

Dr. Omotayo Akinyemi, WHO Representative in Nigeria said, “The fight against hypertension requires a collaborative effort.

“By working together, we can raise awareness, improve diagnosis, and provide effective treatment to those affected.”

 

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