Victims, Experts Highlight Dangers of Trans-fats to Human Heart
Written By; Andrew Ibrahim Mshelia
People suffering from heart diseases have called for more enlightenment and proactive measures aim at curtailing the growing numbers trans fat related disease in Nigeria.
Some of the patients in Aminu kano Teaching hospital who are suffering from heart diseases narrate their experience.
Thirty-six-year-old Hajara Haruna is suffering from a stroke. She said her life has not been the same and laments that if she had known how awful it was to have a stroke, she would have been more cautious and protective with her health. She said should have paid more attention to the type of food she eat by eating food that contains balance deiate, regular exercise and and also manage her stress.
Hajara said she has lost her job and have not been able to secure another, because she is been rejected everywhere she showed up since she not to physically feet to do some of the job she was applying for.
Another patient who narrated his ordeal is 45-year-old Mr John Mathew who lives in Kaduna.
He said, “it started in 2015, one day when I woke up to ease myself around 3am and I just couldn’t move. I tried all possible ways but it seemed impossible.” I was rushed to the hospital and seek for help from some of my relatives.
In Igabi Local Government Area of , Kaduna State , 47-year-old Saratu Danladi sells bean cake popularly referred to as akara in Yoruba and kosai in Hausa, told me that she has been in the business for over 27 years even before she was married to her husband Danladi Makama.
Saratu said the proceeds of her business augments her husband’s earnings from his work as a roadside vulcaniser. With this she also supports their four children.
Saratu popularly known as “Bachelors’ mother,” because her major customers are young men who depend on her akara after a heavy day’s job.
When asked if she bleaches her oil before frying and what happens to the oil when she is done, Saratu said its usually impossible to fry akara and do away with the remaining oil first because She said with the high cost of groundnut oil, its same as throwing away the supposed gain in the business.
According to her she uses controlled groundnut oil and whatever that is remaining can be used for the next day to save cost saying controller groundnut oil is becoming very expensive this days. Saratu said in 2015 a bottle for controlled oil sales between 180 to 200 and now is between 650 to 700 naira
When ask if she is aware of some of the danger that usually goes with the use of some of these oils and that it could lead to trans fat and other hearth disease, she said, “this is not true.” She said considering her years in the business, nobody has ever complained of heart disease.
According to the World Heart Foundation (WHF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) more than 36 million people die annually from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). This accounts for 63% of all global deaths including more than 14 million people who die young.
The World Heart Foundation in its report said low- and middle-income countries, already bear 86% of the burden of these premature deaths giving rise to estimated cumulative economic losses of US$7 trillion over the next 15 years and entrapment of millions of people in poverty.
Hajiya Sadiya Bala who sells a local delicacy known as masa in northern Nigeria, said she has been using controller oil without any complained from her customers. She also confirmed that she bleaches the oil before using it help to get the real test.
Some of their customers interviewed, Mr John Sunday and Godwin Paul dispelled that such oil and habits from the seller of such food could affect their health according to john Sunday he is yet to believed such claims.
In 2019, Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, the former National Coordinator for NCD’s at the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), said CVDs are a significant public health concern responsible for 11% of over 2 million NCD deaths in Nigeria annually.
Dr Ezeigwe who made the disclosure in Abuja during an event to mark the World Heart Day organised by World Health Organization (WHO) in conjunction with the World Heart Foundation (WHF) said, NCDs are also responsible for a high burden of morbidity and disability.
Available data at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and the Usman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital in Kano and Sokoto State, show that, a total of 4, 103 case notes of CVDs were reviewed. Of this number, 2, 159 (52.69%) were males while 1, 944 (47.40%) were females.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have been one of the major health problems in the developed and developing countries, with overwhelming burdens.
The WHO and WHF in a research noted that, cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in developed countries and they are emerging prominently in public health problems in developing countries.
Dr Enoch Onen Alfred of the University of Jos Teaching Hospital explained that cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels.
He said, “they are associated with the build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries (atherosclerosis) and cause damage to arteries and organs such as the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes. Common risk factors include but not limited to: high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, diabetes, inactivity, obesity and family history.”
Dr Alfred described industrially produced trans fat as a type of dietary fat that increases the amount of bad cholesterol – low Density Lipoprotein) and it lowers the amount of good cholesterol (HDL- High Density Lipoprotein).
While explaining that the lipoproteins are the biochemical assembly that help to transport fats in the body. After they have been digested, he said, they could be classified based on density as chylomicrons, Very Low-Density Lipoprotein (VLDL), Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), Intermediate Density Lipoprotein (IDL) and High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL).
These, he said, in turn increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke and that most of it is produced artificially by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils to make it more solid.
Such as processed foods like doughnuts, cakes, cookies, Pizza etc.
Explaining further on the dangers of some of these oil Dr Enoch Onen Alfred said Oils used for cooking generally have some cholesterol, amount of which varies according to the type of oil used. Cholesterol in it self is required for building healthy cells, however, if the quantity is high, especially if the LDL component is high it tends to pose grave dangers by depositing itself in blood vessels and diminishing blood flow to organs in the body.
He said Most of these oils promote the generation of free radicals which are dangerous to cells and tissues. They promote development of diseases of the heart through the formation of arterosclerotic plaques consequently decreasing the lumen of blood vessels and resulting in ischemia. The deposited can become dislodged and block vessels in the brain causing a stroke or heart causing a heart attack.
He futher noted that Young individuals who are exposed to using excessive amount of these oils tend to accumulate them and may suffer these effects later on in life.
Speaking on the steady rise of CVDs in an interview, Dr Abdussalam Tijjani, a cardiologist at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, tied the rise, in some cases, to trans fat which increases the low levels of triglycerides and low density.
Dr Tijjani confirmed that there are a lot of deaths related to trans fat in Nigeria, especially refined foods and urged policymakers to rise to the occasion by providing the enabling laws that will checkmate the kind of food items that flood the country.
He stressed that the National Agency for Food and Drug Control [NAFDAC] and other policymakers must as a matter of urgency put in place laws that will checkmate the influx of foreign food into the country especially those that contain trans fat and those dangerous to healthy life habits.
He also called on Nigerians to go for regular medical check up to ascertain their health status and encouraged them to engage in physical exercises as one of the remedies to control excess fat retention in the body.
Also speaking on the challenges of trans fat as it relates to maternal mortality index in northern part of Nigeria, the Executive Director Centre Media Advocacy for Mother and Child, Mr. Alex Uangbaoje said CDVs are purely medical issues however, the centre is working with relevant stakeholders working around health in pushing for government supports in areas of checkmating fatty products that women in rural community would not fall victims of.
He said much is also needed in the areas of awareness and to also ensure that women gets the right products of food through regulatory agencies like NAFDAC and in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health.
An interview to sample the opinion of some Nigerians about their knowledge of the effects of trans fat, revealed that some heard about it only then for the first time. Some others who knew, urged government at all levels to ensure laws that will guard against the indiscriminate consumption of trans fat.
They also want eateries to ensure that there is reduction in foods that contain fats capable of becoming trans fat.
Recall that experts have said as the world battles corona virus, stroke survivors and those with heart diseases, including high blood pressure and congenital heart defects, may face an increased risk for complications if they become infected with the COVID-19 virus.