The Nigerian Cardiac Society, on Saturday, cautioned Nigerians to avoid getting overly excited during games and emotional events, while advising taking breaks if needed.
The warning is coming ahead of the final match of the ongoing African Cup of Nations between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and their Cote D’Ivoire counterpart.
The society in a statement in Ilorin, Kwara State on Saturday jointly signed by Professor Augustine Odili, the National President, Professor Chizindu Alinkor and Abiodun Akintunde, Secretary-General and Publicity Secretary of the society respectively commiserated with the families of those whose death was linked to the semi-final match played on Wednesday.
The society, however, warned that sports and other emotional events can trigger arrhythmias, heart attacks, and strokes in those with underlying heart conditions.
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“The society notes with utmost concern the several reported cases of sudden deaths among Nigerians both at home and abroad directly or indirectly.
“We wish to commiserate with the immediate families of the deceased and the country at large and pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased.
“The reported deaths of at least four individuals occurring during the match leaves much to be desired on the cardiovascular health of Nigerians,” the statement read.
The experts explained that many risk factors are prevalent among Nigerians and are also poorly controlled.
They described sudden death as a natural, unexpected fatal event occurring within one hour from the onset of symptoms, in a healthy subject, or in one whose disease was not so severe to predict such an abrupt outcome.
“Sudden cardiac death can be defined as death resulting from abrupt loss of cardiac function with or without previous heart disease unexpected within one hour of onset of symptoms.
“About 50 per cent of all deaths from heart diseases are sudden regardless of the aetiology. deaths
“It has also been shown that 89 per cent of all sudden cardiac deaths occur outside the hospital and less than 40 per cent are witnessed,” they said.
The surgeons stated that the causes of sudden death are as varied as its presentation, including complications of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, cardiomyopathies, valvular disorders and, pulmonary thromboembolism among others.
They explained further that the risk factors for heart disease are many, including lack of physical exercise, smoking tobacco, consuming alcohol, and eating unhealthy diets rich in salt and saturated fats and low in fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Other risk factors include high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood lipids/cholesterol (dyslipidaemia), overweight and obesity, and diabetes mellitus.
“Hypertension is the most common risk factor for heart disease and stroke in Nigeria,” they explained.
The experts observed that in heart diseases three out of every 10 adult Nigerians have high blood pressure, many of whom are unaware of their hypertensive status.
They called for effective blood pressure control as a major panacea for reducing the cardiovascular risk of affected people.
According to them, only about seven per cent of hypertensive subjects have been shown to achieve effective blood pressure control in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries.
“We urge all Nigerians to learn the warning signs of cardiac distress and how to respond in an emergency. Know your family history and risk factors and get regular screenings.
“Take steps to manage conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Avoid smoking, eat healthy, exercise, and manage stress.
“For those with heart disease, take medications as prescribed and follow your doctor’s advice,” they said.
“It should be noted that left-sided chest pain should not be taken with levity and should warrant a medical examination,” they added.
The doctors urge all Nigerians to learn the warning signs of cardiac distress and how to respond in an emergency.