Dr Tom Frieden, an American infectious disease and public health expert, on Wednesday urged Nigerians to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke through healthy living.
Frieden, who also serves as President and Chief Executive Officer, Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL), a global public health initiative, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja.
Frieden said that exercising regularly, not smoking, not taking too much salt, avoiding excessive intake of alcohol and avoiding self medication would go a long way to promote a healthy living.
He, however, urged Nigerians to consult a health professional to get on the path to better cardiovascular health.
He disclosed that each year, cardiovascular disease kills no fewer than 18 million people worldwide, a third of all global deaths, and this proportion was expected to increase further.
The public health expert called on Nigerians to get involved and save 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease by doing the right things for others to emulate.
According to him, High Blood Pressure (HBP) is also a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and would kill nearly 10 million people this year, if not managed.
“Everyone knows someone who has died from cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes are so common that they seem like just a regular part of modern life.
“It does not have to be that way; proven, affordable, scalable solutions exist that would save 100 million lives in the next 30 years,” he told NAN.
Speaking on hypertension, Frieden said that hypertension kills more people than any other condition, stating that controlling high blood pressure would save millions of Nigerians.
“Hypertension kills more people than any other condition.
“Approximately 10 million people die each year, more than from all infectious diseases combined.
“ Reducing blood pressure prevents stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, and other health problems.
“Eating too much salt raises blood pressure and causes more than 3 million deaths each year.
“Reducing salt consumption is possible and can be done cheaply,” he said.
Speaking on artificial trans-fat, he said that it could be eliminated from the world by 2023.
According to him, artificial trans-fat is a harmful compound that increases the risk of heart attack and death.
“It can be eliminated and replaced with healthier alternatives without altering taste or increasing cost.”
He said that artificial trans-fat was estimated to cause 540,000 deaths every year globally.
He noted that the elimination of artificial trans-fat had substantial health benefits as eliminating the use of artificial trans-fat in foods in Denmark reduced deaths from cardiovascular disease.
“ In New York State, people living with artificial trans-fat restrictions were six per cent less likely to be admitted to the hospital after suffering a heart attack or stroke,” he said.
The expert noted that the Resolve to Save Lives (RTSI) initiative works with countries to “step up” their preparedness, so they could make incremental, measurable progress toward sustainable health systems that protect their citizens from disease.