High or low blood pressure (BP), diabetes mellitus, exhaustion, cardiovascular diseases and other ailments are increasingly becoming common causes of death as they’re often ignored; PAUL OKAH reports.
When a Nigerian collapses and dies suddenly, the death is often blamed on witch-craft, spiritual attacks, “village people” or some unseen forces as a result of the superstitious nature of many Africans, including Nigerians.
Little or no attention is paid to underlying ailments that might have been ignored by a deceased, as a result of lifestyle, including high or low blood pressure (BP), diabetes mellitus, exhaustion, cardiovascular diseases and other ailments that are known to be silent killers.
More pathetic is the fact that many Nigerians are yet to form the habit of going for routine medical checks, but are often rushed to the hospital when these cases might have gone beyond medical help, thereby reducing many hospitals to glorified mortuaries.
While many are able to live to tell their stories or seek medical advice, other Nigerians have not been too lucky as they slumped and died on the way to work or back from work, with autopsy results tracing their deaths to the aforementioned ailments they were either aware or ignorant of.
On October 4, death occurred at the Senate wing of the National Assembly with the loss of the Tribune Newspapers correspondent in the Senate, Tijani Yinusa Adeyemi, who had a cardiac arrest in one of the National Assembly shuttle buses and subsequently died; a ministerial nominee from Kaduna state, Balarabe Abbas Lawal, also collapsed while being screened by senators.
Doctors at the clinic where he was taken to, who were still documenting vital information on the deceased Adeyemi, as given by his colleagues, rushed to the Senate’s Chamber with their first aid equipment to revive the ministerial nominee, including an enabler carried for them by one of the journalists, even as Senators made riot of suggestions on how the nominee could be made stable after being revived.
After being revived by medics, Balarabe disclosed that he was exhausted while getting ready for his screening for a ministerial role, revealing he was informed of his nomination the previous day and had stayed up all night preparing for his ‘big day.’
“It is basically exhaustion. I got the news of my nomination yesterday and I had to come from Kaduna. There were so many things to do, which I attended to throughout the night. What happened today is as a result of pure exhaustion. I am alright now, nothing is wrong with me. What I experienced was pure exhaustion, which can happen to anybody,” he said.
Speaking with this reporter, a widow, Mrs. Jennifer Edafe, said she lost her husband to BP complications as he slumped while on his way from work in Lagos.
She said: “My husband slumped and died of High BP in August, while his elder sister, who also had BP and diabetes, died a few days later after hearing of my husband’s death. My husband had BP for about five years and was on medications. However, he was the stubborn type and often ignored taking his medication, just like that faithful Monday he died on his way back from work.
“I had reminded him to take his medication that fateful day, but he said he will do that when he comes back from work, which he never did. He had a busy day the previous day being a Sunday as he had to attend social functions while also working. I knew he was stressed that Monday and had insisted he take his medication, but he was someone that always liked to have his way, so I let him be when my pleas wanted to cause a quarrel.
“Then after a busy day at work, he was on his way home when he died. The high cost of fuel had made him not be able to use his car for weeks, so he was using public transport. It was while waiting for a bus at Coconut Busstop that will take him to Ijesha that he slumped and died. The news of his death managed to get to his sister who died a few days later. It has been a painful period for us. Imagine a brother and sister dying at the same time. Though my husband was buried in September, my sister-in-law is yet to be buried.”
Speaking with Blueprint Weekend, a public health consultant, Dr. Festus Olawale Adeleye, advised Nigerians to take proper care of their health and rest whenever they can as ailments like BP, diabetics are silent killers.
He said: “It is discouraging to note that many Nigerians ignore taking care of their health or make routine checks a priority. Some blame it on busy schedules, while others cite medical costs or poverty. However, the point remains that some diseases are treatable with proper and timely diagnosis. Even an adjustment in lifestyle and exercise will see to healthy life and longevity. That’s why ‘prevention is better than cure’ is a popular phrase among Nigerians.
“It should be noted that more than half a billion people are living with diabetes worldwide, affecting men, women, and children of all ages in every country. The number is projected to be more than double to 1.3 billion people in the next 30 years, with every country seeing an increase. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the prevalence of diabetes in Nigeria to be 4.3% and the prevalence is largely attributed to the lifestyle changes caused by urbanization and its results; industries producing unhealthy diets, including sugar-sweetened drinks, lack of exercise, tobacco smoking, among others.
“Common ailments like low or high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, exhaustion and others are manageable with the right medications. Low blood pressure has many different causes, including emotional stress, fear, insecurity or pain, which are the most common causes of fainting.
Dehydration reduces blood volume. Oftentimes, the body’s reaction to heat, which is to shunt blood into the vessels of the skin, leads to dehydration. If your blood pressure drops too low, your body’s vital organs do not get enough oxygen and nutrients. When this happens, low blood pressure can lead to shock, which requires immediate medical attention. Signs of shock include cold and sweaty skin, rapid breathing, a blue skin tone or a weak and rapid pulse.
“Increasing fluid intake can raise blood volume, which helps increase blood pressure. On the other hand, it can also prevent dehydration, which is one of the reasons for low blood pressure. Also, water contains various minerals such as potassium that help regain normal pressure instantly.
If your blood pressure gets too low, it can cause dizziness, fainting or even death. Excess fatigue is the most prevalent precursor of sudden cardiac death. Low blood pressure is not a condition that is usually treated except if it occurs in the elderly or occurs suddenly. In patients over 65, it could indicate the brain and limbs are not receiving adequate blood supply.”
He added: “If you have low blood pressure, excessive consumption of milk and other calcium-rich foods should be avoided. If one has low blood pressure, one should avoid low-sodium meals like frozen fish, unsalted nuts and seeds, dry peas, beans and so on. Instead, eat salty foods, drink caffeine, boost your vitamin B12 intake, fill up on folate, reduce meal size and stop or take it easy on your alcohol intake. As I earlier said, to raise low blood pressure, drink plenty of fluids. When you’re dehydrated, your blood volume is reduced, which causes your blood pressure to decrease.
“On the other hand, if you have high BP, avoid foods that increase blood pressure such as table salt, foods with saturated and trans fats like fried food, fast food, canned, frozen and processed foods, deli meats, cured meats and salted snacks. Also, remember to take your medication regularly as advised by your doctor.
“Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include feeling very thirsty, passing urine more often than usual, particularly at night, feeling very tired, weight loss and loss of muscle bulk, slow to heal cuts or ulcers, frequent vaginal or penile thrush and blurred vision. In some cases, people with Type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes-related health problems.
“Pre-diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance is a condition in which blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. Without intervention, it’s likely to become Type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Progression from pre-diabetes to Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable. However, with lifestyle changes, weight loss and medication, it’s possible to bring a blood sugar level back to normal.”