Dr Monir Islam, the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s country representative in Namibia, has warned that more Namibians are likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases which are on the increase should their bad eating choices persist.
A deeply concerned Dr Islam said in an interview with New Era on Friday that “Namibians love to eat a lot of red meat and fatty food,” which is the reason diseases, such as hypertension, high cholesterol levels and heart diseases are on the rise.
“If you really look at it most fast foods are baked and cooked in oil. Many people in Namibia are suffering from cardiovascular problems and what is worrisome is that it is increasing,” said Islam.
Citing the 2013 Demographic Health Survey of the Ministry of Health and Social Services Islam said that 40 percent of people, aged 15 years and above, in Namibia are hypertensive.
“We found that others knew about it, but others did not know that they were hypertensive,” said a concerned Islam, who attributes the trend largely to lifestyle and eating choices of Namibians.
“Forty percent is really high,” commented Islam, who explained that diseases, such as hypertension and high cholesterol levels can lead to heart (cardiovascular) diseases if left untreated.
“When cholesterol levels are high you don’t know that you have high cholesterol, because you don’t have signs and symptoms. You will only come to learn about it when you have a heart attack,” he warned.
There is bad and good cholesterol, Islam added, “and, the human body needs both. Good cholesterol takes the bad one to the liver and the liver excretes it. But when you have an excess amount of cholesterol there is a problem,” said Islam.
High cholesterol levels are mainly as a result of eating fatty foods and fast food – a habit that Islam says is becoming increasingly common amongst Namibians.
“High cholesterol levels are sparked mostly from eating fatty foods. You need to really maintain a healthy lifestyle by not eating a lot of fatty foods. People can be tested on what their blood cholesterol level is, both the bad one and the good one,” Islam stressed.
The higher the level of cholesterol in the blood the higher the risk of complications, he warned. Regular exercise, he added, is a good way of maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. A reduction in calorie intake is another way, he added.
“Sometimes when cholesterol is really high you can get drugs. The doctors may prescribe certain drugs, which keep the cholesterol level lower, but the main thing is not the drugs but how to reduce the cholesterol level. Changing your lifestyle, [eating] less fatty food and also doing some exercises are the long-term solutions, Dr Islam advised.