This warning about sudden death is not just literature play but a serious caution following the fatality recorded during the last Semi-Final clash between Nigeria and South Africa.
About four Nigerians were reported dead while watching the encounter, and experts have linked their sudden departure to a heart condition. Talking about sudden death related to heart issues conscious care of our hearts and those of others is not only a medical necessity but also a fundamental act of self-love and care for our loved ones.
The vital organ of the body is the engine room responsible for pumping life-sustaining blood to all parts of the body. Juliet Jacob Ochenje examines the development.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart’s rhythm becomes irregular, resulting in a complete cessation of heart activity. Consequently, breathing halts, and the individual loses consciousness. Unless timely intervention is provided, sudden cardiac arrest can result in fatality.
Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) show cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading Non-Communicable Diseases. And are the foremost cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. Of these cardiovascular deaths, 85% are due to heart attack and stroke, and over three-quarters occur in low- and middle-income countries.
“The 2018 WHO Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Country Profiles show that NCDs accounted for 29% of all deaths in Nigeria with cardiovascular diseases responsible for 11% of all the NCD deaths.
The country profile also shows that the risk of dying prematurely from NCDs in Nigeria is 22%. Premature mortality in this instance is defined as death occurring between ages 30 and 70 years from any of the common.
” An average adult at rest, normal heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute, and with each heartbeat, the heart pumps 70 millilitres (mL) of blood out of the heart, which is equivalent to 5-7 litres of blood per minute.
Concern Over Rampant Cases
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Chairman of the Nigerian Lawyers Football League, Prince Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi, in 2021 expressed concern over the increasing number of lawyers in Nigeria experiencing sudden death as a result of cardiac arrest.
Also on the 7th of February 2024, five Nigerians died while watching the semi-final match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Bafana Bafana of South Africa on Wednesday night in the ongoing African Cup of Nations, AFCON, in Cote D’Ivoire.
Deaths During the Match
The match was tension-soaked even as the Super Eagles defeated the Bafana in penalty shootouts.
Those who died watching the match included Anambra-born businessman, Osondu Nwoye who was based in Cote d’Ivoire. He collapsed inside the stadium and later died in a hospital. Cairo Ojougboh, a trained medical doctor and former Member of the House of Representatives, who represented Ika Federal Constituency of Delta State slumped in his house in Abuja while watching the same match.
The extreme anxiety that followed the match also claimed the life of Abdullahi, who was at a viewing center in the Sango area of Kwara state, He died during the penalty kick.
A member of the National Youth Service Corps identified only as Samuel, also died during the penalty shootout.
The corps member from Kaduna State passed away just before the final kick which secured Nigeria’s win in the match.
Speaking with African Health Report (AHR), a Cardiologist Dr. Okechukwu Ogah, has this to say, “cardiac arrest, cardiac events or cardiovascular events which may not just be from the heart, it may also be from the brain or even from the arteries ruptured during such an event, an excitement can occur in situations like that. It is not a new thing, it has been reported in medical literature and it was a taut match and one is not surprised that such an event can occur, most World Cup events, there have been previous reports of people dying during the World Cup, it is not new in medical literature and among health practitioners that such events can occur”.
According to him, “The ones who died should not just die without knowing the cause, if there is no autopsy we are just speculating.
“We need to know why these people died and that is why we have the place of autopsy in medical practice so that they won’t just die and people are saying is a heart problem we know that the majority of these things are cardiovascular problems of which it can be from stroke, it can be from a heart attack, it can be from rupture of a vessel that is very weak or a pipe that is carrying blood in the body or it could be an in burn problem, especially in a young person just like the young Corp member case that died during the match, probably he had a malformation in his arteries which is in the burn that was just waiting for a trigger for the vessel to rupture.
“So, these are speculations, but we need to have autopsy in things like these so we know what the problem is, knowing fully well that these things can occur, people who have high blood pressure should have their blood pressure controlled before going to such events, people who have previous heart problem need to be very careful in attending such an event.
“Some people like myself just ordinarily will want to watch a football match maybe after it has been played, in the world today the best is for one to live to even watch the match rather than to die while watching it, most of these matches are recorded so people can easily rewatch them. So, in situations like this, we need to take care of ourselves by going for regular check-ups and where there are issues one should be very careful to engage in things like that.”
A Psychiatrist’s Perspective
Also expressing his views with our reporter, a Psychiatrist, Dr Oluwatayo Femi, said, “Really strange that we’ve had these deaths as it is not the first time people are watching a tense football match even when Nigeria is involved.
“It is usually heart attacks that kill like that and likely they have pre-existing cardiovascular conditions like hypertension.
“It must be considering these deaths! Obviously, we have to look after our cardiovascular health better but for any credible story.