Dr. Mirabel Nwosu is an interventional cardiologist at Evacare Hospital, Lekki, Lagos, who is into advanced cardiac life support, management of cardiac emergencies and basic interventional cardiology skills. In this interview he speaks on the prevalence of sexual enhancement medications in the country as well as the rising cases of heart diseases
Why do you think heart disease is rampant these days?
It is obvious that heart disease has now become very common in Nigeria, but not only that, it is now affecting the younger generation compared to previously. I think the reason is largely due to the western lifestyle which we have adopted. People are more career-oriented and now practise a more sedentary-based lifestyle characterised by lack of exercise, consumption of unhealthy meals, and less intake of healthy foods. Technology has also contributed significantly to this since we can afford to stay at home and order everything online. We also have access to entertainment on the television via DSTV, Netflix and social media outlets like Twitter and YouTube.
What are the risk factors for heart disease?
The risk factors for heart disease can be divided into those that are modifiable and those that are non-modifiable. Modifiable risk factors mean those that the individual can change and thus reduce the risk by making the right decisions such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, taking medications when required, etc. The non-modifiable risk factors are those that are likely genetic and cannot be altered by the individual. The common non-modifiable ones are age, sex, family history of heart disease and ethnicity. The risk of heart disease increases with age and is more common in males. There are rare disease conditions that cause the blood to clot for unknown reasons or that result in the production of abnormal substances which predispose to heart disease.
Examples of the modifiable risk factors include the following: Sedentary lifestyle, Obesity; hypertension; diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoking, excessive intake of alcohol and high cholesterol
What can be done to avoid heart disease?
Once we know the risk factors for heart disease are, it follows that we should take appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate them from our lives. Such steps will include the following: Exercising for at least 30minutes every other day or daily depending on one’s fitness level. We should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate activity such as brisk walking or 75 minutes of vigorous activity such as running or HIIT (High-intensity interval training). Always consult a doctor for a complete physical before beginning any exercise regimen, Eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet with fruits and vegetables. This is in addition to drinking at least 2 to 3 litres of water daily. Aim to take a glass or 2 of water every morning after waking up; get regular comprehensive checkups annually or bi-annually. Know your numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar. This will ensure that any abnormality is tackled on time; treating hypertension, diabetes, or elevated cholesterol if diagnosed; keeping regular clinic appointments to ensure appropriate monitoring of cardiovascular disease and prevention of complications; smoking cessation is vital; reduce excessive consumption of alcohol such as spirits such as whiskey and brandy, beer, wine.
So many sexual performance drugs are in the market today, what is the implication of this?
This has grave implications because the buyers of these sexually enhancing drugs are exposed to toxic side effects of the drugs especially without taking note of the special precautions associated with their use.
Why do think the usage of sexual is enhancement drug is prevalent in Nigeria today?
I think we live in an age of sexual revolution and technology has made it easier for anyone to access sexual information online. The sexually enhancing medications are not regulated by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control and so can be easily purchased over the counter at pharmacy stores.
How do using sexual performance drugs affect people’s health?
All drugs have side effects that are associated with their use. As doctors, we weigh the risk versus the benefit of using a particular medication before we decide to prescribe for our patients. The major side effect of the use of a sexually enhancing drug is the sudden precipitous drop in blood pressure when the drug is used while the individual is on a medication known as nitrate. Other side-effects include fast and irregular heartbeat, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
As an expert, do you think men need sexual performance drugs?
Men do need sexually enhancing drugs in certain clinical situations of sexual under-performance. This can only be done after a thorough assessment of the individual by a doctor who will weigh the risks and benefits of using the drug. The doctor will also ensure that there are no dangerous drug interactions likely to cause harm.
How can the government sanitise the sexual performance drugs market in the country?
The government can give the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control the power to regulate the use of these drugs such that individuals will need a doctor’s prescription before the medication can be purchased from any pharmacy. The pharmacists should be mandated to discuss possible side effects of the medication and enquire about the use of any drug that can lead to a toxic combination.
What is your advice to Nigerians on how best to take good care of their heart and health in general?
My advice to Nigerians is that prevention of heart disease is better than the cure. All efforts should be geared towards reducing or eliminating the risk factors for heart disease. They should eat right, exercise if possible and take medications if needed. See your doctor for any complaints of chest pain, awareness of heartbeat, excessive fatigue, dizziness, breathing difficulties, fainting spells or body swelling. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment save lives!