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‘Regular screening, avoid smoking’ — Cardiac society shares tips to avoid sudden death

‘Regular screening, avoid smoking’ — Cardiac society shares tips to avoid sudden death
February 10
12:14 2024

The Nigerian Cardiac Society has urged Nigerians to pay urgent attention to their cardiovascular health.

About four Nigerians, including Cairo Ojuogboh, a former house of representatives member, lost their lives while watching the football match between Nigeria and the Bafana Bafana of South Africa on Wednesday.

Reacting in a statement by Augustine Odili, NCS president, the society commiserated with the families of the deceased.

“The Nigerian Cardiac Society notes with utmost concern the several reported cases of sudden deaths among Nigerians both at home and abroad directly or indirectly linked with the surge of emotions associated with the Nigeria-South Africa Match during the ongoing African Cup of Nations competition holding in Cote D’Ivoire,” the society said.

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“The reported deaths of at least four individuals occurring during the Match leaves much to be desired on the cardiovascular health of Nigerians.

“While the society cannot authoritatively confirm the exact cause of death in these situations without prejudice, we owe it a duty to call the attention of Nigerians to the very possibility that sudden death can often occur either in the presence/absence of risk factors many of which are highly prevalent among Nigerians and are also poorly controlled.

“Sudden death is defined as a natural, unexpected fatal event occurring within 1h from the onset of symptoms, in an apparently healthy subject, or in one whose disease was not so severe to predict such an abrupt outcome.

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“Sudden cardiac death can be defined as death resulting from abrupt loss of cardiac function with or without previous heart disease unexpected within 1 hour of onset of symptoms.”

The society noted that about 50 percent of all deaths from heart diseases are sudden regardless of the cause.

CAUSES OF SUDDEN DEATH

The society listed causes of sudden death to include complications of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, cardiomyopathies, valvular disorders, pulmonary thromboembolism.

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Others are aortic aneurysms, status epilepticus, inherited arrhythmogenic channelopathies.

“The risk factors for heart disease are many. The most common, and by far, the important ones are related to lifestyle such as lack of physical exercise, smoking tobacco, consuming alcohol, eating unhealthy diets rich in salt and saturated fats and low in fresh fruits and vegetables,” the society said.

“Other risk factors include high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood lipids/cholesterol (dyslipidaemia), overweight and obesity, and diabetes mellitus.

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

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“Effective blood pressure control is a major panacea for reducing the cardiovascular risk of affected people.

“Several reports have documented a very high prevalence of many cardiovascular risk factors including obesity, metabolic syndrome, smoking including passive smoking) drug abuse, alcohol intake, and physical inactivity among Nigerians.”

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The society emphasised that many of these cardiovascular risk factors are without symptoms and signs.

“Therefore, screening is the only effective mechanism for early identification and appropriate control and prevention of sudden death among the populace,” the society said.

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“The untimely deaths of these Nigerians are a stark reminder that we must be vigilant about our cardiovascular health.

“Sports and other emotional events can trigger arrhythmias, heart attacks, and strokes in those with underlying heart conditions.”

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STEPS TO TAKE TO ENSURE CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

The society urged 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,” the society said.

“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.

“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.”

The society also called on the federal government to increase the funding for health to encourage early and regular screening for cardiovascular risk factors.

The society also noted the need to institutionalise effective cardiovascular care among Nigerians by providing adequate facilities for the hospitals, encouraging adequate remuneration for health workers and promoting effective lifestyle modification.

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