Hypertension remains major cause of sudden deaths in Nigeria – NIMR

Hypertension remains major cause of sudden deaths in Nigeria – NIMR

  • Age 40 and above most affected

L-R Dr Nkiru Odunukwe, head, NCD Research Group, NIMR; Prof. Andre Kengne, South African​ researcher; Prof. Babatunde Salako, DG, NIMR

Latest report from the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has revealed that high blood ressure remains number one killer disease in Nigeria, accounting for about  52%  cause  of sudden  deaths  in the country.

This  was the highlight of a Symposium on Sudden Death in Nigeria tagged “Public Dissemination of National Survey Findings” held at the institute on Tuesady.

According to the executive summary of a five-year survey conducted by the Non-Communicable Research Group, (NCD) NIMR, multiple aetiologies and risk factors of sudden death were identified with cardiovascular, respiratory and central nervous system disorders as the commonest causes.

Details of he report shows a total of 642 cases of sudden death were autopsied during the review period. The south west accounted for 70. 9% of the total data brought in for the study. There were a total of 410 (63.8%) males and 232 (36.2%) females in the study,  giving a ratio of 1.8.1.The age group most affected was 41-50 years (21.2%) with the least affected in the age range of 18-20 years (1.25%).

“The commonest cause of deaths was of cardiovascular origin accounting for 41.4% of cases, followed by cerebrovascular accident with 19.5% and respiratory causes with 14%. The most prevalent risk factor identified was hypertension which accounted for 52% of the cases.

“The report noted that sudden death has become a leading global health; that over seven million people are estimated to die suddenly annually, representing 40% of the annual global deaths.

“Without appropriate interventions, this rate is expected to double by 2020 with 83% of sudden cases occurring in developing countries,” the report says.

Head, NCD Research Group, NIMR, Dr. Nkiru Odunukwe, said the study aimed to generate data on occurrence, causes and risk factor of sudden death as well as determine the level of knowledge, perception and practice on sudden death among health workers at selected teaching hospitals across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria and also a cross-sectional analytical survey of health workers at 12 tertiary hospitals, two per zone across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

The Director General of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako in an interview said it was in a quest to find out the reasons for sudden deaths in the country that led to the survey.

 “What have been shown today is that hypertension remains the number one public enemy all over the world. That is well known but this study has reaffirmed that again and has shown the importance of public a health approach to prevention and treatment of high blood pressure.

“By their results, the most frequent cause of deaths that they found after postmortem was heart disease including failure of the heart and some other disease of the heart and the  underlying factor  was high blood pressure for all of them. So high blood pressure was the number one cause of the disease that led to sudden deaths in this study.

“The implication of that is that, as Nigerians, we need to pay particular attention to prevention of high blood pressure, to treatment by those who have it and of course, to managing the complications well if they develop complications,” Prof. Salako said.

He called on government to find a way of doing public awareness campaign using the media.

“We need to tell government to ensure that drugs for treatment of high blood pressure are available, affordable and people can get it easily. That is one of the major problems why people still have complications,” Prof. Salako added, while advising that people above 40 should check themselves regularly against blood pressure, blood sugar, and cancer because these are the highest killers of people in the world , particularly in Nigeria.

In the same vein, a pathologist with Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Dr Sunday Shoyemi, said people should have their blood pressure checked regularly.

“Let us all avoid sedentary habit. People should exercise. It is recommended that you walk at least 30 minutes in a day to burn excess fat in the body. We should also watch what we eat. This idea of eating junk food is not too good for our health. Avoid eating excessive salty food,” he advised.

Relating their challenges during the survey, Odunukwe noted that getting autopsy report from certain zones was a big challenge especially from the north.  She called on government to support autopsy and enact the Coroner law in all the six geopolitical zones as is obtained in Lagos State.

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