Wednesday, October 5, 2022

ANALYSIS: Tracking Cardiovascular Disease

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By Uche Anunne, NAN

Cardiac doctors describe Cardiovascular Disease, CVD, a silent killer, presenting surreptitious indications that could be taken unimportant until it gets hold of the sufferers.

By the time the CVD strikes, the chances of surviving become slim, cardiologists further warn.

According to them, even in the event of surviving the disease, the shock is much because CVD involves the heart and the flow of blood in vessels which, if disrupted, could result in high or low blood pressure that might cause death.

Cardiologists also state that most of the deaths arising from cardiovascular diseases are caused by heart attacks.

“Heart attack is a circulation problem which occurs in the cardiovascular system when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked.

“It happens when there is a sudden complete blockage in an artery that supplies blood to an area of the heart.

“The blockage of the artery causes hypoxia (low oxygen supply) to the region of the heart denied of oxygen, subsequently causing tissue death. A heart attack is also known as myocardial infarction,” heart doctors explain further.

Dr Kingsley Akinroye, a cardiologist and the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Heart Foundation, observes that no fewer than 10 million Nigerians are affected by heart diseases with hypertension as the leading presentation.

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With this situation, the Nigerian Cardiac Society (NCS) has expressed worry over the rising cases of hypertension and considers the need to find a solution to the problem as quickly as possible.

The society notes: “Hypertension affects more than 30 per cent of Nigerians, having been identified as the most important cardiovascular disease risk factor and the commonest cause of heart failure which has a worse prognosis than most cancers in Nigeria’’.

Similarly, Dr Ramond Moronkola, consultant cardiologist and staff of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, says: “Cardiovascular diseases are silent killers, and if not detected at the early stages, the sufferer is at high risk and can lead to sudden death”.

A physician, Dr Oyindamola Awofisoye, says cardiovascular disease is a significant public health concern responsible for 11 per cent of more than two million non-communicable disease deaths in the country yearly.

“It is also responsible for a high burden of morbidity and disability. Most people with the disease are not aware of it until stroke, heart attack or death occurs,’’ he says.

Dr Peculiar Onyekere gives critical signs and symptoms of heart attack to include a feeling of extreme pressure in the chest, pain in the chest, arm or below the breast bone, fullness and indigestion.

Mr Onyekere, a pharmacist in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, observes further that other symptoms of heart attack could include choking feeling, which could be accompanied by pain in one or both arms, jaw, back, stomach or neck.

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“Shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, anxiety, extreme weakness and rapid or irregular heartbeat are also part of the symptoms of heart attack,’’ he notes.

Bu experts believe that cardiovascular diseases are better prevented than treated and when it is not preventable, early treatment will work rather than wait until it gets to critical stages.

For prevention and management of CVD, a physician/cardiologist, Dr Oyindamola Awofisoye, recommends a healthy lifestyle and intermittent blood pressure checks for those getting up to between 35 years old and 40 years old.

“As we approach the age bracket, it is important to avoid or minimise the consumption of certain food and beverage,’’ he suggests.

Sharing similar opinion, Dr Ramond Moronkola, consultant cardiologist, lists some of the food and beverage to avoid to include bread, processed foods sugar sweetened beverages.

He, nonetheless, warns that improved lifestyles alone will not stem the health challenge posed by the silent killer — CVD.

However, concerned citizens advise that civil society and non-governmental organisations ought to scale up preventive, detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases awareness campaigns.

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They insist that heart-related topics should also be included in physical health education curriculum to ensure that citizens get enough education about it even from a very young age.

Minister of State for Health Olorunimbe Mamora therefore advises Nigerians to make healthy food choices to curb chances of suffering from heart diseases.

“We should control what we eat. We know that many of these non-communicable diseases are related to what we do, what we eat and what we drink’’, he warns.

Critics also note that beyond encouraging Nigerians to wisely choose what they consume, governments should step up efforts in the diagnoses and treatment of heart diseases.

They note that hospitals, including Federal Medical Centres and university teaching hospitals should be properly equipped to effectively handle heart disease cases.

As part of the measures, NCS requests “the provision of ECG machines, point-of-care machines and thrombolytic agents such as streptokinase in every emergency room in view of the rising rates of the acute coronary syndrome’’.

All in all, medical experts insist that heart diseases should be made full components of national health policies such as the National Health Insurance Scheme to open up access to treatment and care to more citizens by making it more affordable.


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