High humidity dangerous to kidney, heart health, cardiologist warns

A Professor of Cardiology at the University of Jos, Plateau State, Professor Basil Okeahialam, has warned that the prevailing high humidity in several parts of the country can cause major damage to heart health if not properly managed.

He gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Umuahia, Abia State.

Okeahialam noted that people prone to developing hypertension and other heart diseases would likely do so earlier under the current weather conditions if no proper care is taken.

He said, “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 a 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,’’

The Don explained that it is the process of working to normalise body temperature to suit proper body functioning that keeps thermal stress on the heart.

According to him, when the heart comes under thermal stress, a healthy heart would cope reasonably, adding, “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.’’

The cardiology professor further noted that under high humidity weather condition, people lose fluids and electrolytes through sweating, which is the body’s mechanism for heat removal from the body.

Okeahialam noted that drinking water alone was not enough as it could cause other problems in the body if electrolytes are not replaced.

He, however, advised people to stay in cool places, wear light clothes and eating hydrating fruits like watermelon, cucumber, cashew, among others, to replace fluids and electrolytes.

The Don warned against staying too long under the air conditioner, explaining that it would also give the heart much stress as it struggles to keep a core temperature for the body’s optimal functioning.

Reacting to safety guide lines issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, he said avoiding proteinous foods was unnecessary.

According to him, high humidity weather exerts too much stress not only on the heart but also on the kidneys, hence, the need to care of them too.

Okeahialam said a high protein diet would add to the kidney’s stress under high humidity weather and noted that Nigerians need not adhere to the advice because they do not take enough protein in their diets.

He added, “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.”


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