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‘How to reduce heart failure- related deaths in Nigeria’


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Despite improvements in care over the past 20 years, reports indicate the chances of survival after a heart failure is still poor.

With available statistics showing heart failure impacts more than 60 million people and a further increase of 46 percent in 2030, cardiologists have called for proper treatments and medical check ups to reduce the burden of heart failure on people’s lives.

According to the cardiologist who made the call at an awareness programme on heart diseases by the heart failure regional committee, Nigeria, the heart condition is a deteriorating health condition identified as the second leading cause of mortality in an acute phase.

A Consultant Cardiologist at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Dr. Okechukqu Ogah, said, according to report by the team in Ife, Osun state, heart failure is the most deadliest disease, second to lung cancer, as 17 percent of people with heart failure die in six months as the number of deaths double to 34 percent in one year, and over 50 percent deaths occur in five years.

He further stated that 35 percent of medical conditions in the hospital wards are as a result of heart failure, adding that early detection, diagnosis and treatment can mitigate further occurrence of the heart condition.

Consultant Cardiologist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Prof. Ibrahim Katabi, emphasized on the need to seek medical check ups once in every three months, just as he stressed on healthy lifestyle and physical exercise, which could mitigate the risk factors of the heart conditions which include obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, genetic predisposition and smoking among other factors.

Speaking on the preventive measure to enable patients with the heart condition live better, Consultant Cardiologist, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Dr. Dike Orji, said, heart failure patients are at high risk of repeated hospitalization, hence, should visit their doctors for prescribed medications rather than self medicate, which increase the risk of mortality as other organs in the body could be affected.

He added that patients avoid intake of salt and oily food, eating more of vegetables and fruits to help boost their digestive system, as they could have constipation, with swelling in their cord due to inadequate flow of blood back to the heart.

Speaking on the state of the health facilities, and the availability and affordability of treatment, the Chairman of the committee and Consultant Cardiologist, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife, Prof. Michael Balogun lamented on the high cost of accessing treatment and the unavailability of equipment to sustain the patients.

He said, technology has advanced with healthcare, as the mechanism to support patients with heart failure are rampant in developed countries, increasing their life expectancy.

“Here in Nigeria the facilities and equipment to do the heart transplant is not available, science has advanced and the patient can be given a mechanical heart which is placed beside the real heart to enable it pump blood to other organs so that they can function effectively. However, the cost of medication is very high, costing more than N200, 000, even the cost of the series of investigation carried out when the symptoms are severe,” he added.

Consultant Cardiologist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Amam Mbakwem, stressed that the health budget is lower than the 15 percent as agreed by the African leaders, coupled with the high exchange rate which leaves the patients unable to afford treatment.

She, however, called for the implementation a health insurance coverage for chronic and expensive treatment, as the available ones only cover cheap medication, just as she urged all stakeholders to collaborate in reducing the health condition and its mortality rate in the country.

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