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AFCON: Avoid getting overly excited during games, Cardiac Society advises Nigerians

The society called on the government to increase the funding for health to encourage early and regular screening for cardiovascular risk factors.

Nigerians jubilation during a Super Eagles match at the ongoing AFCON. [Channels TV]

The advice comes ahead of the match between Super Eagles of Nigeria and their counterpart from Cote D’Ivoire in the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023) tournament held in Côte D’Ivoire.

The advice is contained in a commiseration message jointly signed by Prof. Augustine Odili, the National President; Prof. Chizindu Alinkor, the Secretary-General and Prof. Abiodun Akintunde, Publicity Secretary of the society.

The society sent condolences to families of some deceased persons whose deaths were linked to a surge of emotions as a result of the Nigeria- South Africa Semi-final match in the AFCON 2023 competition held in Cote D’Ivoire.

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The society warned that sports and other emotional events could trigger arrhythmias, heart attacks, and strokes in those with underlying heart conditions.

“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,” it said.

The society observed that it could not authoritatively confirm the exact cause of death in these situations without prejudice.

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The society explained further that it is a duty to call the attention of Nigerians to the very possibility that sudden death could often occur either in the presence/absence of risk factors.

It explained that many of these risk factors are highly prevalent among Nigerians and are also poorly controlled.

The cancer society 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.

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“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,” it said.

The society stated that the causes of sudden deaths varied just as its presentation, including complications of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, cardiomyopathies, valvular disorders and, pulmonary thromboembolism among others.

It explained further that the risk factors for heart disease were many, including lack of physical exercise, smoking tobacco, consuming alcohol, 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”.

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The experts in heart diseases observed that three out of every 10 adult Nigerians, had high blood pressure, many of whom were unaware of their hypertensive status.

The Society called for effective blood pressure control as a major panacea for reducing the cardiovascular risk of affected people.

According to the society, 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.

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“For those with heart disease, take medications as prescribed and follow your doctor’s advice.

“ It should be noted that left-sided chest pain should not be taken with levity and should warrant a medical examination.”

The cardiologists urged 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.

“ Warning symptoms preceding a sudden death may include chest pain, breathlessness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and fainting attacks.”

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The society advised people to take steps to manage conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes and avoid smoking, eat healthy, exercise, and manage stress.

The society also called on those with heart disease to take medications as prescribed follow their doctor’s advice avoid getting overly excited during games and take breaks as needed.

“Have emergency numbers handy and do not hesitate to call for help. It is better to miss a play than miss a life.

“With preventive care and caution, we can still cheer on our teams while safeguarding our health.

“We call on all Nigerians to look out for one another and promote heart-healthy lifestyles. Together we can honor those we have lost by preventing similar tragedies in the future."

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The society called on the government to increase the funding for health to encourage early and regular screening for cardiovascular risk factors.

“There is also an urgent need for institutionalising effective cardiovascular care among Nigerians by providing adequate facilities for the hospitals.”

It also called for adequate remuneration for health workers to discourage brain drain in the health sector, and promote effective lifestyle modification to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease among the population.

The Nigerian Cardiac Society called for calm and collective activity of all Nigerians to stem the tide of rising cardiovascular disease scare among Nigerians, with effective surveillance and population-oriented preventive strategies.

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