The Nigerian Cardiac Society has expressed concern over the fact that three out of every 10 Nigerian adults have high blood pressure and they are unaware.
It noted that hypertension is the most common risk factor for heart disease and stroke in Nigeria.
Days back, there were reports that an All Progressives Congress chieftain, Cairo Ojougboh, a serving National Youth Service Corps member, and three other Nigerians slumped and passed away while watching the match between Nigeria and South Africa football.
Reacting to the deaths, the society in a statement jointly signed by the National President, Prof. Augustine Odili; Secretary-General, Prof. Chizindu Alinkor, and the Publicity Secretary, Abiodun Akintunde, noted that about 50 per cent of all deaths from heart diseases are sudden.
It noted that complications from hypertension, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, among others could be responsible for sudden deaths.
The experts explained that many risk factors are prevalent among Nigerians and are also poorly controlled.
They described sudden death as a natural, unexpected fatal event occurring within one hour from the onset of symptoms, in a healthy subject, or in one whose disease was not so severe to predict such an abrupt outcome.
The surgeons also stated that the risk factors for heart disease are many, including lack of physical exercise, smoking tobacco, consuming alcohol, and eating unhealthy diets rich in salt and saturated fats, and low in fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Sudden cardiac death can be defined as death resulting from abrupt loss of cardiac function with or without previous heart disease unexpected within one hour of onset of symptoms.
“About 50 per cent of all deaths from heart diseases are sudden regardless of the aetiology deaths
“It has also been shown that 89 per cent of all sudden cardiac deaths occur outside the hospital and less than 40 per cent are witnessed.
“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,” they explained.
The surgeons, however, called for effective blood pressure control as a major panacea for reducing the cardiovascular risk of affected people.
According to them, only about seven per cent of hypertensive subjects have been shown to achieve effective blood pressure control in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries.
They urged all Nigerians to learn the warning signs of cardiac distress and how to respond in an emergency.
“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.
“It should be noted that left-sided chest pain should not be taken with levity and should warrant a medical examination,” they added.
The experts urged the government to increase funding for the health sector 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.”