To prevent sudden slumping and dying, heart care experts have urged Nigerians to embrace proper treatment of underlying health conditions.
The experts warned that having undiagnosed or poorly managed high blood pressure and untreated high cholesterol can make a person suddenly slump and die.
According to them, a person cannot just suddenly slump and suffer cardiac death because sudden cardiac death is preceded by other underlying diseases that the carrier may or may not be aware of.
Most of these diseases, they noted are mostly cardiovascular-related and could include conditions such as heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
They stressed that to prevent a person from suffering sudden cardiac death, constant checking of blood pressure and cholesterol level is important, noting that there is often no first aid that can be offered at the point of slumping to prevent death from cardiovascular conditions.
The consultant cardiologists who spoke with Reportr Door HealthWise, Drs. Ramon Moronkola and Oladimeji Adebayo explained that sudden cardiac death is an unexpected fatality due to cardiac causes that occur in a short period (generally within 1 hour of symptom onset) in a person with known or unknown cardiac disease.
While there is no data on the prevalence of sudden cardiac death in Nigeria, a 2019 research done in Dakar, Senegal found that during the seven years of study, 235 cases of sudden cardiovascular death out of a total of 3,717 forensic autopsies were collected which they said indicated that sudden cardiovascular deaths represented 75.3 per cent of all sudden deaths.
In the study titled Sudden Cardiac Death in Dakar: Epidemiological and Anatomo-Pathological Characteristics, the authors said that sudden cardiovascular death is a major global public health problem, especially in Africa where data is not available to account for cases.
Speaking further with our correspondent, Moronkola, who is a consultant cardiologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, explained that anyone suffering a cardiovascular condition is at risk of sudden slumping and dying but noted that not all cases of sudden cardiac death are caused by the heart. Some of the cases, Moronkola said, are caused by the blood vessels.
“When people slump and die, it is not only the heart that can be responsible, in fact, the brain has a lot to do with it. People can have strokes and become unconscious and even die.
“Basically, things that cause what we call cardiovascular disease – the heart and the blood vessels. If the heart is diseased in different forms, it can cause the heart to stop working and the person can die. If the blood vessel has a problem, that is what causes a stroke and if it is very severe, the person can slump and die.
“It doesn’t have to be the heart each time a person slumps and dies, it can be the heart, it can be the brain, those are the two common reasons,” he said.
He also addressed the claim that giving aspirin to any person who suddenly slumps due to cardiac issues could help, noting that, “it is not true that giving aspirin can help.
“It depends on what the person has. If the person is having a heart attack, we may give high-dose aspirin but it has to be prescribed by a health practitioner and properly administered because aspirin is a blood thinner.
“As I said earlier, the blood vessels to the brain, if they have a problem that can cause stroke, it is either the blood vessel is blocked or has busted. So now imagine if the person is taking the drug, it will worsen the condition.”
Also speaking with our correspondent, Dr. Adebayo, who is a consultant cardiologist at University College Hospital, Ibadan said sudden cardiac death occurs mostly in men.
Some form of sudden cardiac death also occurs in some individuals with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (disease of heart muscles) who engage in vigorous exercise, he said.
“Examples occur in young persons who have this disease who slump maybe when playing football,” Adebayo said.
Sudden slumping and dying can be prevented by regular check-ups, especially for those with a family history of the disease, Adebayo said adding that if any person is suffering recurrent palpitations, episodes of hypotension or has repeated episodes of syncope (fainting spells), they need to be properly checked by a cardiologist.
Prevention of the condition, the cardiologists stressed involves lifestyle changes, especially doing things that would help reduce the risk of stroke or heart attacks like quitting smoking and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.
Proper management of high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and obesity is also important, they said.
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