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Drug abuse can trigger heart attack in youths – Evercare Cardiologist

The abuse of hard drugs could act as a trigger for heart attack in youths, speeding up the heart to dangerous rates that its blood supply cannot handle, Okoh Ewere, a cardiologist at Evercare Hospital, Lekki has cautioned.

Unlike in older groups which the incidence of heart attack is often linked to fat deposition, youths who abuse drugs could experience a demand and supply mismatch that could completely cripple the normal flow of heart functions.

“Heart attack occurs when a part of the heart muscle does not get enough blood to function and when this persists, it leads to death of that muscle. This shortage of blood results from a blockage within the lumen of the vessel,” Ewere said in a statement raising awareness of the disease.

“This blockage typically consists of fat deposition and platelets within the lumen leading to narrowing of the lumen and eventually complete occlusion. This process of fat deposition did not just suddenly occur but has been accumulating gradually over months to years.

The 21st century has seen a surge in non-communicable diseases and top on that list are cardiovascular diseases, a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels.

Such diseases include heart failure, strokes, rhythm abnormalities of the heart (arrhythmias), hypertension, diseases of the peripheral blood vessels, and heart attack (Myocardial infarction) amongst others.

In Nigeria, the sudden death of physically healthy individuals either by slumping or sleep seem on the rise due to heart attack or stroke. However, it is often attributed to the influence of witches and wizards, Ewere said.

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Even though life expectancy has improved, industrialisation has brought a sedentary lifestyle, a more westernized diet, and obesity, creating a shift from communicable diseases like cholera to non -communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and heart attack.

He explained that fats are naturally deposited in arteries as a normal process of the ageing process but it could be accelerated by some risk factors including smoking, abnormal cholesterol levels, family history of heart attack, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle among others.

When symptoms of a heart attack occur, Ewere said the sooner the patient gets to an emergency room, the better the chance of reducing the damage to the heart muscle.

At the hospital, health care professionals can run tests to find out if a heart attack is happening and decide the best treatment, he said, noting that the blockage in the cardiac arteries can be ameliorated by dilating the lumen of the artery for blood to flow through.

This is done in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. The numbers of such laboratories thankfully are increasing in Nigeria though not sufficient for a population of over 200 million people.

On prevention of the devastating effects of cardiovascular diseases, the doctor advises that lifestyle adjustments and dietary modifications such as quitting smoking, exercise, diet and healthy eating, alcohol limit, and stress control are helpful.

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