Experts Reveal Causes Of Sudden & Unexpected Deaths In Nigeria
Exclusive report by Omolara Akintoye
What are the causes of such sudden deaths? What are the preventive measures that can be put in place to avoid them? Are there any warning signals for potential victims?
The researchers also found that more males than females, at a ratio of 2:1, are affected, and the average age of the victims is “47.3 years. They blamed the rise in SUD on rural to urban migration, increased salt and fat intake from the consumption of processed foods, increased tobacco use and sedentary lifestyle.
The studies were conducted by the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba; Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH); University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) and the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), among others.
To check the rising cases of sudden death, the medical experts called for urgent review and upgrading of critical care management facilities in the country, as well as improvement upon the level of awareness, control and management of hypertension among the populace.
They also recommended that Nigerians should engage in physical activities in order to protect their heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke.
The Nation learnt that the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Yaba, Lagos, has already started a nationwide study on the rising cases of SUD even as the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO), is planning a national survey on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
This media house also went round to sample people’s opinion on how often they go for medical checks and it was shocking to discover that people are too busy trying to make ends meet at the detriment of their health.
In an interview with Mrs. Clara Chukwuoma, a market woman, she said “Medical check? Where is the money to go for it, when I’m busy selling my market to get food for the family and make ends meet? I don’t have the time and the money for that, biko,” she said.
Mr. Ishola Owonikoko, a businessman’s response was similar. Even though he seemed a little well-off, he practically lamented the lack of time. “The last time I went for medical check was 5 years ago when the medical team came to my area.”
Cardiovascular disease/heart-related disease (CVD) is responsible for seven per cent; cancers, three per cent; diabetes, two per cent; chronic obstructive respiratory diseases one per cent; and others were responsible for 11 per cent.
The study published in the Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice and titled “Trends in acute emergency room hypertension-related deaths: an autopsy” investigated hypertension-related acute deaths in patients admitted to the emergency room of LUTH.
Autopsy reports for bodies deposited from the medical emergency room (ER) were reviewed. Details of the time of admission, time of death and blood pressure status prior to the event were obtained. The result shows there was 297 hypertension-related deaths, but 252 were analysed. There were 168 (66.7 per cent) males and 84 (33.3 per cent) females, and the mean age was 47.33±12.18 years (14 to 85 year). Two thirds of the subjects (65.5 per cent) were 50 years of age. The mean duration of admission was 5.88±6.41 hours. One third (35.3 per cent) died within an hour of admission.
The commonest causes of death were stroke 149 (52.8 per cent) and heart failure 103 (40.9 per cent).
Intra-cerebral hemorrhage was the commonest type of stroke seen, 69 (52.3 per cent). Intra-cerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is a type of stroke caused by bleeding within the brain tissue itself – a life-threatening type of stroke. A stroke occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen and blood supply. ICH is most commonly caused by hypertension or head trauma.
Another study titled “Sudden Cardiac Death: Clinical Perspectives from the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital” and published in World Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases concluded: “Sudden cardiac death is common among our patients admitted with cardiovascular diseases. The most common etiology is ischemic cardiomyopathy, followed by peripartum cardiomyopathy. Most of the victims were young, and there were no optimum resuscitative measures.”
A systemic analysis of sudden natural deaths at Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, published in The Nigerian Health Journal concluded: “Cardiovascular system pathologies, especially hypertensive heart disease, remain the leading cause of sudden natural deaths in this study.”
‘People should create time to rest’
Said Dr. Ehis Ukpebor, a gynecologist and CEO, Idowu Specialist Hospital, Ojota, Lagos, “There are lots of reasons why people slump and die. Let me go straight to the major ones.
“Stress – The last time I checked, I realised that people no longer give time for themselves. No time to rest, due to the nature of their jobs and other activities. You will see a lot of people waking up as early as 3am for work, coming back late in the night. This is rampant in the country today. A lot of people don’t know how to manage crisis. The situation on the road, activities at work, all these contribute to stress.
“People know how to endure pains and headache. These are some of the things many people no longer pay attention to. By the time the whole issue piles up, it becomes what we call stress. When one is stressed without proper medical attention, it kills.
“Another one is High Blood Pressure and poor diet.
Eating foods that will nourish the body should be a habit not just eating anything.
“There is what we call secondary and primary causes of death. The primary causes of death are those with possible reason why a person slumped.
For instance, diabetes. If someone is diabetic, without proper care, there is possibility that the person would slump, thus, we can call this primary cause of death.
“The secondary one is cardiac arrest. A person might slump and if taken care of, would survive. But once a person slumps and the heart is gripped (cardiac arrest), it’s the end. A lay man would say he slumped and died but cardiac arrest is totally different. It has no disease attached. Once it happens, it has no remedy.
“People should create time for medical check-up. Go to a hospital, examine your body, let medical experts run a test on your body every time.
“Stress is something that kills fast.
We are all thinking of money and how to settle bills. In the process, the body is stressed. Also what we eat helps in fighting sickness.
This is why I always tell people to inspect what they eat. No matter how little the food is, we should eat balanced diet. All these help the body against crisis.