Sudden deaths: Cardiologists advise Nigerians to go for screening

2024-02-10 09:36:29

Tribune Online

Nigerian Cardiac Society (NCS) has advised that screening is the only effective mechanism for early identification and appropriate control and prevention of sudden death among Nigerians.

In a statement by the President and Secretary general of the association, Professor Augustine Odili and Professor Chizindu Alinkor, respectively, the professional cardiologists said that many of the cardiovascular risk factors are without symptoms and signs.

It is recalled that recent reported cases of sudden deaths among Nigerians were directly or indirectly linked with the surge of emotions associated with the Nigeria-South Africa match during the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023) compétition holding in Côte D'Ivoire.

The association noted that the untimely deaths of the people were a stark reminder that Nigerians must be vigilant about their cardiovascular health, saying that sports and other emotional events can trigger arrhythmias, heart attacks, and strokes in those with underlying heart conditions.

"We urge all Nigerians to learn the warning signs of cardiac distress and how to respond in an emergency. Know your family history and risk factors and get regular screenings. Take steps to manage conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Avoid smoking, eat healthy, exercise, and manage stress.

"For those with heart disease, take medications as prescribed and follow your doctor's advice. Avoid getting overly excited during games and take breaks as needed. Have emergency numbers handy and do not hesitate to call for help. Better to miss a play than miss a life.

"Warning symptoms preceding a sudden death may include chest pain, breathlessness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fainting attacks. It should be noted that left-sided chest pain should not be taken with levity and should warrant a medical examination.

"With preventive care and caution, we can still cheer on our teams while safeguarding our health. We call on all Nigerians to look out for one another and promote heart-healthy lifestyles. Together we can honour those we have lost by preventing similar tragedies in the future.

"The Nigerian Cardiac Society calls on the government to increase the funding for health to encourage early and regular screening for cardiovascular risk factors.

"There is also an urgent need for institutionalizing effective cardiovascular care among Nigerians by providing adequate facilities for the hospitals, encouraging adequate remuneration for health workers to discourage brain drain in the health sector, and promoting effective lifestyle modification to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease among the population.

"Hypertension is the most common risk factor for heart disease and stroke in Nigeria. Sadly, three out of every 10 adult Nigerians have high blood pressure, many of whom are unaware of their hypertensive status.

"Effective blood pressure control is a major panacea for reducing the cardiovascular risk of affected people. More sadly, only about 7 per cent of hypertensive subjects have been shown to achieve effective blood pressure control in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries.

"Several reports have documented a very high prevalence of many cardiovascular risk factors including obesity, metabolic syndrome, smoking including passive smoking) drug abuse (recreational drug use), alcohol intake, and physical inactivity among Nigerians. The risk of sudden death varies with the cardiovascular risk factor, the severity of the disease, genetics, and other precipitating factors among which may be acute stressful reactions to which the link with these recent deaths can be associated.

2024-02-10 News