Two recent incidents at the floor of the National Assembly – the death of a member of the Senate Press Corps, Alhaji Tijani Adeyemi of Tribune Newspapers and the collapse of a ministerial nominee undergoing screening, have once again brought to the fore, the need for Nigerians to take their health needs seriously.
Adeyemi was reported to have slumped in the bus conveying him to the National Assembly and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital he was taken to. Also, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Oluseye Odunmbaku, reportedly died in his sleep at his residence in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. This was confirmed by the state command of the Force.
These are not isolated cases as health authorities are getting worried at the increasing rise in the cases of sudden death in the country. Media reports also indicate that the rate at which many Nigerians either die in their sleep or slump is beginning to raise serious concerns among health experts.
There have been many unreported cases where some individuals just passed on while sitting down or discussing with their loved ones or during a productive activity. Although deaths attributable to cardiac arrests are not new in the country, they are said to have become too frequent and have, therefore, attracted the expert attention of health workers.
Sudden death syndrome (SDS) is a loosely defined umbrella term to categorise series of health challenges that can lead to cardiac arrest and possibly death. But experts often insist that such health problems appear sudden only to lay people who ought to know that inadequate attention to one’s health can lead to what is generally referred to as sudden death.
The health authorities also aver that those ailments which unfortunately lead to sudden deaths or, if one is lucky, incapacitation, often generate symptoms that are ignored or are not properly treated and on time. The resort to self-medication in such cases provides temporary relief which in turn misleads the patient to assume that the ailment is not that serious until it is too late.
Sudden death, it needs to be reiterated, is a tragic event that can occur due to various reasons. Experts list some of the common causes of sudden death to include heart disease, stroke, and fatal arrhythmias. In 2019 alone, cardiovascular disease was recorded as the world’s leading cause of death- 17.9 million deaths comprising 32 per cent of global mortality.
In 2020, heart disease killed 382,776 men (1 in 4 male deaths) and 314,186 women (1 in 5 female deaths) according to a report by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States of America. The average age that men will have a heart attack is 65, while for women, it’s 72, Harvard University claimed in its 2016 report.
Women aged 45-65 who have a heart attack are more likely than their male counterparts to die within a year. Women older than 65 who experience a heart attack are more likely than men of the same age to die within a few weeks said the United States Department of Health and Human Services in 2020. In Nigeria, health experts claim that cardiovascular disease is responsible for 33 per cent or ‘one third’ of nearly half a million noncommunicable disease deaths in the country yearly.
However, it’s important to note that these statistics aside, sudden death can be prevented in some cases. For example, maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help prevent heart disease and stroke. Additionally, if anyone experiences symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness or light-headedness, chest pain, strong heart palpitations, a feeling of anxiety, or perspiration, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
This suggestion, it must be stressed, is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. If one has any concerns about one’s health or the health of someone else, it is advisable to consult a qualified healthcare provider.
Diseases such as high blood pressure and stress among many others are referred to as silent killers which is why people are advised to keep an eye on their work load, watch what they eat, reduce the intake of excessive refined sugar, salt, fat, beef and other dairy products while, at the same time, increasing their vegetable and fruit consumption.
Similarly, people prone to such diseases are advised to stop smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, reduce weight and exercise regularly. These are not foolproof measures, but they will surely help in reducing the scourge of sudden death that is assuming an epidemic proportion in Nigeria.
Above all, health experts emphasise the necessity of regular medical checks where early signs of those silent killer diseases are noticed and appropriate medical procedures commenced to nip the danger in the bud.
As a newspaper, we are not unaware of the prevailing situation in the country especially the harsh realities in the economy as well as the all-pervasive security challenges. In our opinion, they make it even more pertinent for everyone to take it, as a vital point, to manage their health conditions even as they pursue their daily duties.