Sudden cardiac deaths (SCD), also known as sudden heart death, is rising in the country with many unrecorded cases, as well, worsening the nation’s health indices. Most of these deaths, grouped as heart related are, however, preventable through healthy diet and lifestyle. APPOLONIA ADEYEMI reports
A story of apparently healthy persons who suddenly collapses and dies is now a common feature in the news. Such was the story of the late Mr. Olayinka Sonaike, the chairman, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria. He died while delivering his speech at an event at the headquarters of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in Abuja on Tuesday, December 11, 2017.
The deceased who was 74 years old, was one of the resource persons invited by the ICPC to speak at a one-day colloquium of business management organisations. He was about to make his presentation when he slumped and efforts to revive him failed.
Similarly, the Clerk of the House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, Mohammed Shuaibu slumped while walking down the National Assembly staircase at about 12:00 noon on Monday, March 13, 2017. He was rushed to the National Assembly clinic where he died, according to reports.
The late Shuaibu had arrived Abuja from Zaria for a committee meeting, but died some minutes before the meeting commenced. The death of another prominent lawyer Barrister Solomon Uzoigwe in Onitsha also occurred in the same manner.
According to reports, the shocking incident occurred on Wednesday, January 24, when the deceased slumped and died in the premises of Onitsha High Court in Umuchu town, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State where the late Uzoigwe had gone to defend a land matter. The most recent of such deaths which has left many Nigerians wondering what could be amiss, was that of the late Deji Tinubu in January, 2018.
According to the Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Kehinde Bamigbetan, the late Tinubu, the former chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, slumped while playing five-a-side match with fellow participants at the ongoing retreat of members of the state executive council and permanent secretaries at the Jubilee Chalets, Epe in January 25. He was 52 years old.
There is no doubt that these reported sudden deaths would be a tip of the iceberg. If the deaths reported in the media are those of prominent Nigerians, the number of unreported sudden deaths involving the poor and less privileged in rural far-to-reach areas can best be imagined. What this means is that many more of such deaths would have gone unreported, prompting the question: ‘’What is making some Nigerians that were not sick to die suddenly?”
A Cardiovascular Heart Health Physician, Dr. Kingsley Kola Akinroye with expertise, in the prevention of heart disease, classified most deaths that happened in this manner as sudden heart death.
According to him, a sudden heart death occurs within one hour in an individual that is apparently healthy.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that globally, almost three million people die every year from sudden heart death. A lot of the studies in the United States (US) shows that more than 300,000 people die annually from sudden heart death but in terms of percentage, “we have less than that happening in the Asian region and very low happen in Africa,” he said.
Presently, data on sudden heart death in Africa is very scanty; Akinroye said most of these deaths were related to blood flow to the heart, which is called ischemic heart disease.
“The other causes of sudden deaths are non-ischemic, which are not related to the blood vessels of the heart, the common ones being problems with the muscles of the heart, which is called cardiomyopathy.
“In the African region, available documents in literature on sudden heart deaths involve athletes including footballers.”
Also, among those whose sudden heart deaths are recorded include people living with hypertension and those with heart muscle problems. Electrical activities of the heart have also been known to cause sudden heart death in some Nigerians, but documentation on this were still very rare, Akinroye added.
The cardiovascular heart health physician said heart muscle disease is more of the problem in Africa, while the blood vessel disease is common in the western world including America and Europe. Nevertheless, he noted that blood vessel disease is now coming up in the African region.
Six per cent of Africa’s adult population with blood vessel disease (coronary heart disease) five years ago, has risen to 11 per cent presently because of western diet and unhealthy lifestyle in terms of poor physical activity, uncontrolled blood pressure, and blood sugar, sedentary lifestyle, all of which contribute to rising diseases of the blood vessels and the heart muscles.
Akinroye said, ‘’You must recognise that in Nigeria, hypertension, which is the rise in blood pressure is our heart disease.
‘’With regard to heart rhythm problem, when the heart vessel disease occurs they can also affect the rhythm of the heart as well. So, the rhythm of the heart can also be the cause of sudden death in the population.’’
Hence, he listed some of the causes sudden heart death as heart muscle disease, coronary disease (blood vessel) and heart rhythm problems.
On his part, a Consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Chinedu Eluogu attributed rising sudden deaths in the society to several factors of which them is the increase in the prevalence of some conditions that cause sudden death.
He attributed the common causes of sudden death to cardiac causes. Medical conditions that increase the risk of Nigerians to sudden heart deaths include hypertension, diabetes, smoking, alcoholism, dietary indiscretion, obesity, among others.
Eluogu said, “These conditions have increased among Nigerians presently and that, in turn has increased the prevalence of sudden cardiac death.”
Also, the consultant cardiologist said poor detection of these medical conditions has contributed to why sudden cardiac death is prevalent.
He said, “These problems are not detected on time,” adding, “If there is primary detection of these conditions, some sudden cardiac deaths can be prevented.”
While admitting that the case of everyone that slums and died suddenly was not necessarily a sudden cardiac death, Eluogu asserted that most of them were heart related.
Eluogu said, “Sometimes there were pointers; but a lot of time, there were no pointers.”
Eluogu listed some of the symptoms as a fainting attack, a severe chest pain, an excruciating headache, among others.
In people that suffer stroke, a blood vessel burst in the head, sometimes could be a symptom. A severe headache could be as of sudden heart death as a result of a blood vessel that had expanded and busted, Eluogu explained.
Eluogu said it was important for people to screen themselves and find out if they had some background health conditions like high blood pressure (HBP) that can predispose them to sudden death. A test in the clinic will tell someone whether his blood pressure is high or not.
If one has a relation – father, mother, siblings, among others that has hypertension, the person should not just monitor blood his blood pressure, the fellow should check his blood sugar, body mass index (BMI) and adopt healthy lifestyle modifications that can even help to control these conditions.
A healthy diet is rich in fruits and vegetables.
“A lot of people also don’t sleep well and this is one of the things that predispose one to sudden cardiac death,” he added.
Similarly, he urged people to reduce alcohol consumption, especially binge drinking, which is the consumption a large quantity of alcohol in one sitting. “That is also dangerous,” Eluogu noted.
He urged the three tiers of government to teach people how to do cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which saves lives. “It has been found that when people around anyone that faints knows how to do CPR, it increases the person’s chances of recovery.”
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), CPR performed in the first few minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest, can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA is an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. It can disrupt the blood flow to the brain, lungs and other organs. The AHA said 90 per cent of people who suffer out-of-hospital SCA die. However, teaching Nigerians how to do CPR would save lives, Eluogu affirmed.
Other necessary risk factors include checking level of cholesterol, the body’s electrolyte, kidney and liver functions, body mass index (BMI) to ensure that they are within normal limit.
He recommended echcardiography and ultra-sound as part of key screening to determine the state of one’s heart health.
Echo cardiograph, a necessary heart check costs between N25,000 to N45,000 and ultrasound scan. “When you consider that when some people die several millions of Naira is spent to bury them, bringing out funds to carry out these routine tests is not too much,” he reasoned.
Eluogu said although, our health insurance may not cover most of these heart tests including ultrasound scan, but individuals can walk into clinics and check their blood pressure, blood sugar, be mindful of what they eat to prevent obesity, and the consumption of excessive alcohol and salt.
Furthermore, he causiioned against the current trend of taking illicit drugs. “A lot of people that experienced these sudden deaths had been found to be taking illicit drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, tramadol, etc. Eluogu added, “Everyday clubs spring up in our environment and a lot of people are going into taking drugs and cigarettes including shisha, but the public needs to be aware of the health risks these could pose.”
Simple home remedy for rainy season
Now that rainy season is in full throttle, numerous insects, pests, and creepy crawlers would be more prevalent. These creatures would attempt to infest your homes.
It is your responsibility to ensure your home does not get infested.
You could use simple home remedies that are readily available in your kitchen, such as cloves, borax, anise seeds, lemon, to repel gnats, rats, houseflies and other insects and pests from your home.
You could also use these home remedies, such as garlic, ginger, and turmeric, to alleviate a number of everyday ailments such as cold, catarrh, insomnia, and migraines.
I urge you to consider home remedies in your repertoire of items to keep your family and your home safe and healthy
Sokoto Takes Measures to Mitigate Effects of Strike by JOHESU
The Sokoto State Government Saturday said it has taken drastic measures towards mitigating the nationwide strike embarked upon by the Joint Health Sector Workers Union (JOHESU) in the state.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Balarabe Kakale, made this known to journalists at the end of a meeting with officials of the union at the Specialist Hospital, Sokoto.
He said some volunteer health workers had been mobilised to fill in the gap in the affected hospitals in the state.
Kakale stated that all the health facilities would remain open for services and as such there was no cause for alarm.
“All the health facilities will remain open for services across the state. So, the members of the public should remain calm as there is no cause for alarm,” he said.
The commissioner pointed out that the industrial action was primarily for health workers in teaching hospitals and federal medical centres.
He noted that during the meeting, all members of the union had resolved to show compassion to the patients and continue to exercise their duties during the Ramadan.
According to him, this may not be unconnected with the harmonious relationship existing between the state government and the health workers in the state.
Kakale to this end, commended members of the union for showing understanding to the current situation.
The commissioner added that the state ministry of health was collaborating with the office of the Head of Service to review the welfare package of health workers in the state.
The state health workers had on Friday announced their readiness to join the nationwide strike action embarked upon by JOHESU.
Doctors’ll provide care services in Lagos hospitals – Medical Guild
Doctors in Lagos State under the auspices of Medical Guild, said they would ensure that care services would be provided in health facilities in Lagos State so as to reduce the burden of the ongoing strike declared by health workers.
They made their plan known in a communiqué issued at the end of the Ordinary General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Medical Guild held in Lagos on May 12.
According to the communiqué, which was signed by the Chairman of Medical Guild, Dr. Babajide Saheed and the association’s Secretary, Dr. Opeyemi Aiyegbo, Medical Guild has directed that a committee be set up to ensure that members of the Guild continues to maintain services in Lagos hospitals.
Medical Guild, an association of doctors employed by Lagos State Government, is an affiliate of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
Although, the health workers strike declared by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) began since April 17, the national body of the union directed its members in state hospitals to join the strike last week and this has crippled services in state hospitals.
However, the Medical Guild, in its Communique said its members would be on ground to attend to the patients that need care in the state.
Similarly, the Medical Guild stated that it was vehemently opposed the appointment of a non-medically qualified person as the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Health Service Commission, “as this is stated in the Health Sector Reform Law 2006 setting up the Commission.”
Saheed and Aiyegbo said, “The government should take steps to correct this irregularity.”
Furthermore, the association stated that it had rejected the position of Consultant Pharmacist as indicated in the circular. “It is our position that the work ‘Consultant’ in a hospital refers only to specialist medical practitioner of high ranking who is an expert in his/or her field.
“The meeting observed that the conferment of the status of Consultant to any health worker apart from Medical Directors will lead to chaos and anarchy in the health sector.
“It will also adversely affect patient care and indeed promote widespread quackery in the state.”
In addition, they said he conferment of the status of Director on the Medical Laboratory Scientists and Radiographers would lead to turmoil and confusion in the system.
Furthermore, the Medical Guild frowned at a situation in which doctors had not been benefiting from training programmes while other health workers had been given various trainings.
According to them, a number of contract doctors had not been regularised, contrary to the position of the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
They noted that the association would vigorously pursue the matter of regularisation of contract doctors to a successful conclusion.
They said, “The association rejects any attempts to distort the algorithm in hierarchy in the Pathology Department of the State hospitals. We will not accept a situation in which medical laboratory scientist will be allowed to function independently of pathologists.”
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