By Dickson Omobola, edited by Sola Ogundipe

Physical inactivity, increasing smokers, eating of junk foods that have saturated fats and rejecting local meals that are rich in fibre, among others, have been fingered by the Nigerian Cardiac Society, NCS, for the growing cases of cardiovascular diseases in the country.

NCS spoke at its 52nd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference themed: “Cardiovascular Care Across the Life Course, from Womb to Prevention to Palliation,” held in Lagos.

Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Augustine Odili, who is the President of the NCS lamented the upswing in cardiovascular cases in low and middle income countries, particularly Nigeria, urging citizens to adopt health seeking behaviour.

Odili, who spoke at the event warned that excessive intake of calories whether carbohydrates or fat and oil were bad for the health.

“Before now, nobody thought that cardiovascular disease was a problem in low and middle income countries, one of which is our country. Various factors can be attributed to this disease. There is the fact that people are no longer exercising as they used to, obesity is on the increase and physical activities have decreased drastically. Also, more people smoke cigarettes and there is a lot of eating of junk foods that have saturated fats.

“The major challenge here is excessive intake of calories whether carbohydrates or fat and oil. When you take these things excessively more than you need for energy production, the carbohydrate will be converted to fats,” he said.

On the incursion of Artificial Intelligence into the health sector, he said: “With machines and data, if you can accumulate a lot of data, you can train machines to make predictions about illnesses. You should be able to use data to make predictions about prognosis. The fears are there too. One is do we have enough data? Do we have properly collected data? It means that sometimes people can even hack into it and produce fictitious data that can mislead everybody.”

On her part, the Chairperson, Local Organising Committee, LOC, Professor Amam Mhakwem, in her speech, also lamented the exit of highly skilled cardiologists from the country, adding that the situation has become worrisome.

She said: “We are facing a new major challenge of dwindling workforce due to the JAPA syndrome. Young doctors and even the older ones are leaving the shores of Nigeria for a better work environment and remuneration. This shortage is even more acute in areas like cardiology requiring highly skilled and trained personnel.

“There is also some reluctance among our younger colleagues to go through the rigours of specialisation with the current state of very poor remuneration for highly specialised and skilled doctors working in the cardiovascular space in Nigeria

“However, in the face of these challenges, our patients and employers still demand the same quantum and standard of care that can only be delivered by a critical number of cardiovascular health care workers.

“How do we offer service effectively and efficiently despite these challenges? I believe there needs to be a change in paradigm in how we deliver care and train CV specialists and all professionals. “This means we must find new methods of cardiovascular care delivery across the life course – from web prevention to palliation.”

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