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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Diet treatment for cardiovascular diseases

By Olamiotan Afolabi


Cardiovascular diseases also known as heart disease. The heart which primary organ of the circulatory system and the most important muscle in the body, is a first sized organ that pumps blood throughout the body. According to WHO, cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders affecting the heart and blood vessels.

Heart diseases (CVD) has been known to be the number one killer in the world. It takes about 18million lives each year representing 32% of global death, 85% of this death are due to heart attacks and stroke. In Nigeria and Africa in general, there is high rate of mortality caused cardiovascular related diseases due to poor health care facilities.

The exact cause of CVD isn’t known but there are lots of things that is risk factors that can cause of increase the possibility of having heart diseases. The lead risk factor of CVD are unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, harmful use and high consumption of alcohol, high blood sugar level (diabetes), obesity or overweight, high cholesterol level, smoking, high blood pressure, hereditary (family history of CVD). Other risk factors could be age and gender.

Detecting heart diseases as early as possible is very helpful and important while counseling and the use of medicine can help in the treatment of the disease. There are many types of cardiovascular diseases. However, the most common types will be discussed and their diet treatment, among these are coronary heart disease, strokes and TIAs, peripheral arterial disease and Aortic disease are known to be the most common types of CVD.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle, it occurs when the flow of oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle is blocked or reduced. In Nigeria, no fewer than 100,000 cases are recorded yearly. Coronary heart disease has symptoms like Angina (chest pain caused by restricted blood flow to the heart muscle), Heart attack (a condition where the blood flow to the heart muscle suddenly get blocked) and Heart failure (a condition where the heart is unable to pump blood around the body properly).

Coronary heart disease is caused by atherosclerosis which is the build of plaque inside the arteries, plaque consists of cholesterol, fatty substances waste products and calcium. Therefore, those with high level of cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of heart disease, obesity and smokers are at high risk of CHD.

This type of cardiovascular diseases has no cure but one can possibly manage the condition with good diet and proper lifestyle. Good nutrition is one of the best way to manage the symptoms of heart diseases that is eating certain food while avoiding some.

One, increase the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables like apple, pawpaw, banana, oranges, watermelon, pineapples, asparagus, carrots,tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, belle peppers (tatase), garden eggs and garlic, they all co rain good amount of vitamins and mineral, low calories which help to maintain healthy weight and they are Aldo good source of fiber that help to lower cholesterol level.

Two, the consumption of whole grains can also contribute greatly to heart health and help in the reduction of coronary heart disease impacts. Whole grains are as important as fruits and vegetables, they are excellent sources of fiber and nutrient dense that can help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol. Example are…

Three, Eat healthy fats. Although whenever fat is being mentioned, what comes to the mind of a layman is that it increases the body weight. However, not all fats are harmful to the body, there healthy fats which when consumed moderately can do good to the heart health. Healthy fats can help woer cholesterol, these include monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, canola oil and milk.

Four, protein is known to contribute greatly to ones health However, in the case of coronary heart disease, one need to be selective and choose proteins that are low in fat (known as lean protein). Example are fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, eggs, soybean and skinless poultry meat.

Another type of cardiovascular disease that should be given full attention to is “Stroke and TIA (transient ischaemic attack also known as mini stroke)”. Stroke occur when there is blockage of blood supply to the brain, when this happens, the brain does not have enough oxygen or nutrients which can cause damage to the brain and possibly death when left untreated. TIAs on the other hand is a mini stroke which occur when blood flow to the brain is temporal, the blood flow to part of the brain is inadequate for a brief period of time.

Stroke can be managed or completely treated with good medication and healthy diet consumption. Although many stroke patients struggle with eating, this may be due to appetite loss, difficulty in moving arms and hands, trouble remembering when to eat, finding it difficult to chew and swallow. That is why is it advisable to give stroke patients soft foods and also pay attention to what food they find most palatable.

Fruits and vegetables should be prioritized in preventing and taking care of stroke patients as it is the best choice for controlling weight and keeping the heart in good shape. Fruits and veggies are naturally low in fat and calories but rich in fiber which makes one feel fuller. They also contain high amount of Vitamin A, C, Folate and potassium such as bananas, oranges, sweet potatoes, garden eggs and tomatoes. Magnesium rich food like spinach can also go a long way to lower the risk of stroke.

Eating salmon, mackerel which are high in omega-3 fatty acids help keep the body blood pressure and cholesterol in good shape. The consumption of three servings of fish that contains omega-3 fatty acids each week can promote heart health and lower the risk of having stroke.

Also, whole grains food like bread and cereal, oatmeal which are high Fiber food, B vitamins (folate and thiamine), Iron and magnesium all promote heart health. Low fat dairy food cannot be left out in the treatment and prevention of stroke, these include food like cheese, milk, yoghurt and other dairy products like vitamin D, potassium, protein, and calcium. However, be mindful of full fat dairy products which contains saturated fats (e.g. biscuits, cakes, parties, pies, pizza, fried food, potato chips, processed meat, burgers) and cholesterol food that could increase the risk of stroke. Salts should be avoided and also avoid drinking too much alcohol.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is another type of cardiovascular disease that should be given critical attention. This is a circulatory condition in which narrow blood vessels reduced blood flow to the limbs usually the leg, it is a very common disease in Nigeria with about 1.5million cases per year. Symptoms include cramping, leg pain. Which is worse when walking, hair loss on the feet and legs, sores on the toes, feet or legs (persistent ulcer) that might not heal, numbness or weakness in the legs, erectile dysfunction in men, change in the color of the legs. Factors that increase the risk of having PAD include smoking hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, age ( mostly after age 50) and family history of PAD or any heart diseases.

Therefore, the best way to prevent or treat peripheral arterial disease is to adhere to proper medication and maintain healthy lifestyle with good diet. That is, it is advisable to suit quit smoking if you’re one, Lowe your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, control your blood sugar if you have diabetes, eat food that are low in saturated fat and maintain a healthy weight.

Lastly,on most common type of cardiovascular disease is Aortic disease. Aortic disease are a group of condiotns affecting the aorta, aorta I’d the largest blood vessel in the body which carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Disorders of the aorta can be life threaning that is why it  is called a silent killer because it does not symptoms until the aneurysm bursts. Aneurysm is a disease of the aorta where the aorta become weak thereby causing tears in the inner lining.

Risk factors associated with aorta disease include, age, gender mostly male, hyperlidemia, hypertension, diabetes, smoking and family history. Healthy diet may cut the risk of aortic aneurysm disease by avoiding sugar, sweetened beverages including soda, fruit juice and energy drinks, eat low fat food and also eat friend and fat food only in moderation.

Lower high cholesterol by modifying your diet that is limit saturated and trans fat. Eat more of food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, nuts and seeds (e.g. walnuts), plant oils (e.g. soybean oil), eggs, yoghurt and milk. Remember to keep your blood pressure level in check because hypertension is also a risk factor for aortic aneurysm.

In the treatment of cardiovascular disease generally, there are food to be avoided and things to take important. It is important to manage and control ones weight, blood pressure and cholesterol level. Food like butter, fried food, processed meats, parties, junk food like pies, ice cream and potato chips. High sodium like table salts, packaged meals, condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup should all be avoided.

Most importantly is regular exercise. Make exercise a part of your daily routine, a regular exercise can help lower your blood pressure, raise good cholesterol and in combination with a healthy diet, aids weight loss.



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