Juliet Jacob Ochenje
Ahead of the final match of the African Cup of Nations between Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire, the Nigerian Cardiac Society has on Saturday advised Nigerians to refrain from excessive excitement and emotion during games and events, and to take breaks if necessary.
The Society advised in a statement that was signed by Professor Augustine Odili, Professor Chizindu Alinkor, and Abiodun Akintunde, who serve as the society’s National President, Secretary-General, and Publicity Secretary, respectively.
The Ilorin Society expressed its condolences to the families affected by the deaths of individuals associated with the semi-final match that took place last Wednesday in Kwara State.
The society expresses deep concern over the numerous incidents of sudden deaths among Nigerians, whether occurring within the country or abroad. They emphasize the potential danger posed by sports and other emotionally charged events in individuals with preexisting heart conditions, which may lead to arrhythmias, heart attacks, or strokes.
“We express our sympathy to the immediate families of the deceased and the entire nation, and we also pray for the peaceful rest of the departed souls.
The statement stated that the reported deaths of at least four people during the match raise concerns about the cardiovascular well-being of Nigerians”.
According to the specialists, numerous risk factors are common among Nigerians and are not being effectively managed. They defined sudden death as an unforeseen and deadly event that takes place within an hour of symptoms emerging. This can occur in an otherwise healthy individual or someone whose condition is not severe enough to anticipate such a sudden and fatal outcome.
“Sudden cardiac death refers to the sudden loss of cardiac function resulting in death, either with or without previous heart disease, occurring within one hour of symptom onset. Approximately half of all heart disease-related deaths are classified as sudden, regardless of the cause. Researchers have discovered that 89% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of medical facilities and less than 40% are witnessed by others. The surgeons also noted that the causes of sudden death can vary and encompass complications from conditions such as hypertension, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, cardiomyopathies, valvular disorders, and pulmonary thromboembolism, among others.”.
According to their explanation, there are numerous risk factors for heart disease, such as a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and following an unhealthy diet high in salt and saturated fats while lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Additionally, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol levels (dyslipidemia), being overweight or obese, and having diabetes are also considered risk factors.
They stated that hypertension is the prevailing risk factor for heart disease and stroke in Nigeria.
It has been observed by experts that three out of every 10 adult Nigerians have high blood pressure as a result of heart diseases, with many of them being unaware of their hypertensive condition. They emphasized that effective blood pressure control is crucial in reducing the cardiovascular risk for these individuals. It was found that only approximately seven per cent of hypertensive individuals in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries were able to achieve proper blood pressure control.
The doctors strongly urge all Nigerians to familiarize themselves with the signs of cardiac distress and how to handle emergencies. They also advise individuals to be aware of their family history and risk factors, as well as to undergo regular screenings. Taking steps to manage health conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes is also recommended. Additionally, they emphasize the importance of avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress. For individuals with heart disease, it is advised to adhere to prescribed medications and follow the advice of doctors. The doctors also highlight the significance of seeking a medical examination for left-sided chest pain, as it should not be taken lightly.