Mr. Okeahialam noted that an African has the natural tendency to retain salt in his or her body, hence the need to reduce salt in-take and consumption of foods high in salt and related chemicals.
“We did a paper when we bought condiments from the market and tried to test for the sodium content and we found out that the popular condiments women like to use in preparing food to be tasty were very high in sodium.
“The African has the tendency to retain sodium in the body system and so if we take a lot of sodium in our diet, we retain most of it and when that happens, we expand our blood volume, which results in High Blood Pressure.
“So if there is anybody, who should cut down his or her salt in-take, it is an African because that is a key driver of hypertension.
“But we need to also be careful of fast food, you are in the city and there is no time to cook natural food, you buy shelved food prepared with a lot of salt so as to prolong the shelf-life.
“If we take in much salt, we increase our tendency to suffer cardiovascular diseases but if we can reduce salt up to 50 per cent, we can be sure of reducing hypertension prevalence by as much as that,” he said.
He called on Nigerians to discard social perceptions which were leading them into dangerous lifestyles. He noted that tasty foods are not really made so by seasonings.
According to him, when the top-hill-dwelling Koma people in Adamawa state were discovered in 1986, research showed that none of them had a trace of high blood pressure.
The professor attributed this finding to the fact that the Koma people do not make use of salt in cooking their meals on a daily basis.
He stressed that salt usage should reduce as the users advanced in age.
Mr. Okeahialam said that cardiovascular diseases as hypertension affects close to 30 to 40 per cent of adult Nigerians but regretted that most victims of hypertension were hardly aware that they had it.
He said that the number of men, women, adolescents and children with HBP and are at risk of cardiovascular diseases was so high that cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria had become a national emergency.
The professor, therefore, called for more advocacy, greater government funding of health care and participation in policy implementation, more commitment from medical personnel and citizens’ change in lifestyles to fight it.