By: Mariah Akinyi
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people of all age groups, region and countries are at risk of being affected by cardiovascular diseases. Inhabitants of low-income and middle-income countries account for 75% of cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) account for most NCDs deaths of 17.9 million people annually, which is 31% of all global deaths making CVDs one of the most dangerous killer diseases of this century.
According to the study done ministry of health, up to 50% of all hospital admissions and over 55% of all hospital deaths in Kenya are attributed to NCDs. This clearly shows that the issue at hand is serious and that the writing is on the wall for the relevant authorities to act accordingly.
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have in the recent past been an eyesore in Kenya and the World in general. Them being chronic diseases which last for long periods of time and progress slowly, have affected many people in one way or another, directly or indirectly as a result of the ‘ravages’ that come with them. They are not caused by infectious agents (non-infectious or non-transmissible). NCDs include among others cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease that have really jeopardized the lives of the victims making them unable to effectively perform their respective duties. The blog focuses on unpacking information on cardiovascular diseases, underlying conditions that contribute to their spread outlining the types.
Cardiovascular diseases are generally diseases associated with the heart and which hamper the normal functionalities of the victim’s heart. They inter alia include; Ischemic heart disease which is one of the most common types of cardiovascular disease and affects the circulation of blood to the heart muscle, Heart failure which occurs when the pumping action of the heart cannot provide enough blood to the rest of the body as needed, Rheumatic heart disease which begins with a bacterial infection in childhood, affecting joints and heart valves, Cerebrovascular disease also known as Stroke is a problem with the circulation of blood in the blood vessels of the brain, Peripheral vascular disease which affects the circulation of blood in the legs whose patients complain of pain in their calves especially when walking, Congenital heart disease which is a problem with the heart structure arising because of a birth defect for instance having a small hole in one of the inside walls of the heart or they can be complex affecting the way blood flows through the heart and lungs.
Cardiovascular diseases are caused by a number of factors which if not controlled, can have drastic effects on the lives of the patients. Such include; high blood pressure (hypertension), smoking, excessive use of alcohol or caffeine, stress, obesity, family history of heart problems, drug abuse and some of the over the counter medications, prescription medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies among others. Its symptoms are; pains or pressure in the chest; pain or discomfort in the arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw or back; shortness of breath; nausea and fatigue; light-headed or faint; cold sweat.
MedlinePlus, an institute of Health’s website for patients and their family and friends recommends measures that can be used to help people steer clear of the repercussions brought about by cardiovascular diseases. Such include; controlling your blood pressure by ensuring that it is checked regularly and taking the necessary lifestyle changes, keeping one’s cholesterol under control, staying at a healthy weight by trying to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium and added sugars and maximizing on fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Others are limiting the intake of alcohol, avoiding smoking, managing stress (e.g. by exercising, listening to music) ensuring that one gets enough sleep etc.
Therefore, we call upon the Nairobi County government to allocate funds to curb Cardiovascular diseases and to ensure that health workers are being trained to deliver tested and affordable measures to protect people from Cardiovascular diseases and help them recover.