As part of efforts to reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the country, the Executive Director (ED), Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), Dr. Kingsley Akinroye has urged people with high blood pressure (BP) to stop salt consumption.
Akinroye who said this in Lagos during the launch of a National Heart Awareness Campaign initiative said the commonest risk factor for heart diseases in Nigeria is salt and sodium, as it is largely found in most foods and water.
According to him, it has been documented that people who consume higher quantity of salt are more at risk of heart diseases than those who take less and “even growing children who take much salt records high BPs before adulthood.”
The NHF boss noted that though most books recommend 6 grams as the accepted daily salt consumption, he endorses less than three grams to be on the safe side.
He therefore appealed to government to collaborate with the foundation and food industries to adopt ways to reduce salt and high fat in processed foods.
The awareness campaign, which was in partnership with 2As Communications, was tagged “spread the heart message,” and its sole thrust is to create awareness on the issue of heart health through out Nigeria.
The message comprised 10 pointers of heart health indicators which includes, “Reduce salt intake, cut dietary cholesterol, eat at least two – three serving of fruits daily, say no to tobacco; promote smoke free environment, avoid alcohol intake, engage in 30 minutes of exercise at least 3-4 times per week, check BP regularly, avoid overweight, sleep average of six hours per day, avoid stress.”
Akinroye added that the campaign was a follow up from the national heart health summit, which held in April, 2016.
He further remarked, “the most targeted population of the campaign would be the workforce especially those in offices because they are at higher risk.”
The NHF ED stated that the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the country is on the rise as “not less than 25 per cent of her adult population is suffering from hypertension.”
He advanced “cardiovascular diseases are the world’s largest killers, claiming 17.3 million lives yearly, accounting for about a one- third of deaths worldwide.“
Akinroye urged government to subsidize the cost of drugs for cardiovascular diseases due to their expensive nature as well as try to support a policy to mark world salt day as South Africa does.
Increasing production of more and more processed food, rapid urbanization, and changing lifestyles are transforming dietary patterns. Highly processed foods are increasing in availability and becoming more affordable. People around the world are consuming more energy-dense foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, sugars, and salt. Salt is the primary source of sodium and increased consumption of sodium is associated with hypertension and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
At the same time, as their eating patterns shift, people are consuming less fruit vegetables and dietary fibre (such as whole grains), that are key components of a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain potassium, which contributes to reduce blood pressure.
Salt in the diet can come from processed foods, either because they are particularly high in salt (such as ready meals, processed meats like bacon, ham and salami, cheese, salty snack foods, and instant noodles, among others) or because they are consumed frequently in large amounts (such as bread and processed cereal products). Salt is also added to food during cooking (bouillon and stock cubes) or at the table (soy sauce, fish sauce and table salt).