July 03, 2010

Secret to long and healthy living

WITH official figures of life expectancy in most African countries at low levels eg Nigeria is 47years, it implies that those who are above 50 in the country deserve a thanksgiving celebration.

Why not? With what we all go through in most African states, the inconsiderate leaders, the unnecessary stress, lack of potable water, prevalence of fake drugs (about 40 per cent of all the drugs in Nigeria are fake) and worst still, poor health care, how does one live long?

Comparatively, the life expectancy of Americans has risen to between 75 and 80 years. Where does that leave you and I in our Africa? It is a worthy topic to consider and dwell on because health is wealth.

Every African, and indeed Nigerian, should stand up for his or her health in the face of all this - the tyranny of the governing, death-hole roads, inadequate health services or health quackery, fake drugs and many others.

We can take simple measures right now to give time the finger and lengthen our lives.

Simple things to do

Mentally, in the course of everyday life, chances are that the average human being has some millions of brain cells ‘fried’. A simple remedy to this damage is to drink lots of water and exercise at least 20 - 30 minutes two to three times a week.

Protect your heart.

It’s easy to write off heart trouble as something that plagues only cheeseburger-grubbing big, fat and old people. Cardiovascular disease is a huge concern for both men and women and is a number one killer. It is possible to reduce the risk of heart disease by 82 per cent with simple lifestyle changes such as adding exercise into your schedule, limiting fatty foods and cutting alcohol and tobacco consumption. Prevention of Cardiovascular diseases starts from now no matter your age.

Infact the younger the age at which one starts, the better the results.

Learn to prioritise.

One famous doctor once said that Nigerians spend more on funerals and parties than on their health. Although this is not true for everyone, it is nonetheless a very important and significant point. MESSAGE: spend money to obtain appropriate health care and health information from properly qualified health care personnel for yourself and your dependents so as to improve and maintain a high quality of life.

Don’t self-medicate.

There was a woman who died from heart attack. When she had the early signs of an impending attack, she preferred to buy pain relievers not knowing the real source of her pains. Worse still, she died and N40, 000 was found in her purse! MESSAGE: Know your first aid, but be sure to consult a properly qualified medical or health care personnel immediately you have a strange unexplained symptom.

Be versatile in first aid techniques.

Accidents, whether domestic or commercial, are inevitable. Many lives have been lost because people around accident scenes are ignorant of the first thing to do with a sick patient and so by the time they rush the person to the hospital, it may be too late.

It is sad to see people moping at accident victims and when they even try to help, they are likely to worsen the situation. I have had two young men rushed in dead to a hospital casualty while i was on duty, they had had a high tension electrocution while working on an electrical unit. A simple cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) started IMMEDIATELY following their electrocution, and continued while transporting them to the hospital, may have saved their lives. Instead, they were bundled into a car and driven over several miles to my hospital's casualty unit, where they arrived dead.

A stitch in time always saves nine. First aid classes could be taken at the Red Cross or St. Johns; you never know when the knowledge will come in handy.

Aside from following all the obvious health rules (don’t smoke, keep your weight in check, don’t overindulge in alcohol, etc.), your best measure is to stay vigilant with medical checkups to reveal the possibility of any silent but ongoing health issue in time, and also to mind who you move with and where you go to and how you go to places since lifestyle and environments play a major role in maintaining good quality health.

Knowing the rules is not good enough but sticking to them and above all, valuing yourself and your health because if you do, you would do anything and everything possible to protect it.

By Dr Tony, a registrar at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital; Calabar

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