Overweight and obese cases are a concern, says visiting cardiologist at Future Care Clinic | 14 February 2020
Dr Thisara Samarawickrama was in Seychelles a few days ago as a visiting cardiologist at Future Care Clinic. Seychelles NATION spoke to him to learn about some of the main findings during his time in Seychelles.
Dr Samarawickrama is a consultant cardiologist from Hemas Capital Hospital in Sri Lanka; he has been coming to Seychelles roughly every three months to see his patients, this being his 5th visit.
He noted that during the time he has been coming to our country, his main finding is that most of his patients are either overweight or obese, meaning that they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or more (designated as overweight) and more than 30 (obese). He said that a normal, healthy BMI should be around 18 to 24.9.
Dr Samarawickrama said that the danger with being overweight/obese is that it increases the risk of heart related problems.
“There is a clear relationship between being overweight/obese and strokes, heart disease, renal artery and kidney issues, as well as gut issues such as Mesenteric Angina which leads to severe abdominal pain after meals.”
He also spoke about a heart condition known as Angina – its main features include chest pain, cramping and shortness of breath when walking fast or uphill. Angina is the primary stage and a warning sign that a person could be at risk of a stroke or heart attack.
“A heart attack on the other hand is when someone experiences tight chest pain, feels giddy or nauseated, he/she may vomit and have an urge to pass stool; in many cases the person can collapse.”
During the past year since he has been coming to Seychelles, Dr Samarawickrama has seen more and more patients which he says could be due to increasing awareness. Some patients come forward even without symptoms to do their check-ups as they are aware of the risks associated with being both overweight and being in their 40s.
He said that the usual age of the patients he is seeing here in Seychelles is men between the age of 40 to 50-55 years and women who have reached menopause. He mentioned that women are protected from the risk of heart-related problems as a result of the female hormones during their reproductive years, however, they lose this protection once they reach menopause. He observes though, that most of his female patients are overweight and obese.
Dr Samarawickrama explained that the causes of obesity include unhealthy eating and that being a population of largely African descendants, we are prone to have hefty bodies. Therefore, we have to work hard to reverse this through exercise and control the amount of our carbohydrate intake.
He stressed on the fact that we need to increase our intake of fruits, vegetables and proteins, and cut down as much as possible in our consumption of foods that are high in saturated oil and bad cholesterol. We should also aim to exercise at least 30 to 45 minutes, ideally 5 days a week so that we get at least 150 minutes per week. Cardio related exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming and aerobics, at moderate intensity for longer periods (not short bursts of high intensity) are more beneficial for the heart.
The visiting cardiologist said that it is also very important to control other pre-existing diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, and to stop high risk behaviour such as smoking and high alcohol intake so as to lower the risk of heart-related disease. “If you want a healthy nation, you need to address all of these factors.”
Dr Samarawickrama also mentioned that the government also needs to have more policies in place and control over unhealthy foods, and also to continue to educate children and young adults about healthy eating and the importance of exercise.
For those interested, Dr Samarawickrama comes to Seychelles every 3 months and his next visit will be in May 2020. For appointments, contact Future Care on 4 22 52 52.