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High humidity can be injurious to heart health– Don



A scholar, Prof. Basil Okeahialam, has warned that the prevailing high humidity in parts of the country can damage heart health if not properly managed.

Okeahialam, a Professor of Cardiology, University of Jos, Plateau, gave the warning in an interview with our correspondent on Saturday in Umuahia.

The don said that people prone to developing hypertension and other heart diseases would likely do so earlier under the current weather condition if no proper care was taken.

“Yes, definitely, it does; high humidity has adverse effects on heart health; there is something we call thermal stress.

“When the temperature is high and humidity is high, the body comes under what we call intense thermal stress because much pressure is put up on the heart to make it work harder.

“As human beings, our temperatures are not permitted by nature to swing over a wide range because the core temperature has to be maintained within a narrow range for the body to function normally.

“But when temperature and humidity is high, the heart makes greater effort to keep the temperature within the required low range because the gradient that easily removes heat from the body to the environment is narrowed.’’

According to Okeahialam, it is the process of working to normalise body temperature to suit proper body functioning that keeps thermal stress on the heart.

He said that when the heart came under thermal stress, a healthy heart would cope reasonably with it, but the human being would be uncomfortable and seeking to cool off.

“But if the heart is diseased, and needs rest to function optimally but is under thermal stress and you are giving it excess fluid, it could go into heart failure.

“Weak hearts that are presented with high thermal stress are prone to going into heart failure during weather conditions like this.’’

Okeahialam said that under high humidity weather condition, people lost fluids and electrolytes through sweating which was body’s mechanism for heat removal from the body.

He noted that drinking water alone was not enough but could cause another problem for the body if only fluids and not electrolytes were replaced.

The academic recommended staying in cool places, wearing light clothes and eating fleshy fruits like watermelon, cucumber, cashew, opete (Costus afar) to replace fluids and electrolytes.

He also warned of over-staying under the air conditioner which he said would also give the heart much stress as it struggled to keep a core temperature for the body’s optimal functioning.

Okeahialam, reacting to an item from the guide to safety purportedly coming from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), said avoiding proteinous foods was unnecessary.

He said that a high humidity weather exerted stress not only on the heart but also on the kidneys; hence, the need to care for them too.

The professor said a high protein diet would add to the kidney’s stress under a high humidity weather stressing that Nigerians needed not heed that advice because they did not take enough protein in their diets.

“In Europe, a man may eat a quarter of a goat at a meal so the quantity of protein in a European diet may create more work for a kidney that is facing thermal stress.

“But for us here, I don’t think reducing protein is the way to go because we do not take much protein in our meals,’’ he said.

Ijendu Iheaka

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



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