Stroke is commonest cause of hospital admissions in Nigeria
Doctors blame rise on poorly managed hypertension, diabetes
Doctors have raised a fresh alarm on the rising cases of strokes and its complications in the country. They said stroke-related ailments are the commonest cause of hospital admissions in the country constituting about one third of patients who stay at specialized/teaching hospitals.
They however, blamed the situation on rise in cases of hypertension and diabetes, which they said in most cases are poorly controlled and managed leading to complications such as coma, stroke, kidney damage leading to death.
The medical experts said Africans are more likely to develop stroke and die from the disease than whites because of genetic makeup and lower socio-economic status.
Also, according to findings published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, a higher neighborhood advantage, or socioeconomic status, of where a person lives contributes to a lower risk of having a stroke no matter the person’s race.
A consultant physician/neurologist at the College of Medicine University of Lagos (CMUL) and Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Mustapha A. Danesi; and Consultant Surgeon and Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, in separate interviews told The Guardian that the after-effects of a stroke can be life changing.
They said paralysis, speech problems and memory loss occur in varying degrees, depending on the location and amount of brain tissue damage.
They however, said voluntary physical exercise is known to have a positive effect on a person’s overall well being even as it delays memory loss in old age and improves cognitive ability.
Bode said LUTH has a special Stroke Centre to help in quick recovery of patients and also take the pressure off the regular wards.
To address the situation, Danesi and Bode said that prevention through legislation, increase in physical activity, regular intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, and monitoring of blood pressure and sugar levels is key.
Danesi said: “People are carrying high blood pressure and diabetes that they are not aware of, and sometimes even if they are aware of it they are not treating it adequately and they are also carrying other risk factors. For example if you have hypertension or diabetes and you are not controlling the blood pressure the person can have stroke at anytime.
“Stroke happens to be the commonest consequence for high blood pressure in this part of the world. You know abroad, in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and America people talk about heart attack and myocardial infarction, which is by far the commonest consequences of high blood pressure over there. You see that myocardial infection do occur here but far less than stroke. Most people have blood pressure here and more at risk of stroke than any other complications. We are prone to stroke as a race as black people tend to have a lot of stroke. Genetic racial far more than we have heart attack I think probably that is our characteristics.
“We have a large number of people on admission. The commonest cause of admission to the medical wards today is stroke. If you count the number of patients in the wards those admitted for stroke are by far found in majority than any single diagnosis. It is a very big issue now.”
The neurologist added: “What we need to do is primary prevention. It is the question of addressing the causes like hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol issues, and then we try to educate people. We try to get doctors to make sure that once you identify these conditions you treat them so that you can prevent stroke.
Danesi further stated: “Exercise is important. Studies have shown that those who do exercise are protected to some extent against stroke. It reduces blood pressure if you do exercise. Then diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables also help to reduce stroke.”