Cardiovascular Health
Heart Attacks Amongst Young Adults in Nigeria
Dr Folasade Alli, Consultant Cardiologist, Nigeria
24 June 2019
Heart attacks are commonly associated with older and/or overweight persons, however, this life threatening condition can also occur in younger persons and those with normal BMIs (body mass index).

A heart attack happens when the supply and flow of oxygen rich blood to the heart is suddenly disrupted or blocked. This can cause serious heart muscle damage and is potentially life threatening.

If a large portion of the heart is damaged, it can cause this powerful muscular organ to seize beating which is otherwise known as Cardiac Arrest. This can lead to Sudden Cardiac Death.

From my experience and observation, the main underlying reason why heart attacks are increasingly common amongst young Nigerian adults is due to underlying health issues including abnormalities with blood clotting (which can block the arteries and prevent the flow of blood to and from the heart); a tear in the artery wall and hypercholesterolaemia (a disorder featuring high cholesterol). The latter condition is usually familial, that is, genetic in nature and poorly related to poor dietary habits.

In other cases, I have found that heart attacks in young adults can occur as a result of pressure placed on the heart from damaging lifestyle habits such as recreational drug use such as cocaine, extreme dieting and very excessive increase in exercise.

The risk that medical conditions, such as hypertensive heart disease and coronary artery disease, pose on heart attacks is further compounded by smoking, high fat dietary habits, high levels of saturated fat, being overweight and having high cholesterol.

Nevertheless, survival rates of heart attacks can be improved dramatically if one seeks medical attention in order to minimise the damaging effects to the heart.

Remember, the heart is the bodys engine. When its not right, other things within the body begin to malfunction. Treat your heart right from young and cultivate good habits.