A heart expert, Dr Okechukwu Ogah has named untreated hypertension as the major cause of heart failure in Nigeria, warning that heart failure now occur 20 years earlier in Nigerians than in Europe and America.
Dr Ogah, a consultant cardiologist, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State spoke on “Recent Advances in the Clinical Epidemiology of Heart Diseases in Sub Saharan Africa” at the Institute of Medical Research and Training (IMRAT), University of Ibadan lecture series in Ibadan.
The medical expert, quoting the latest survey on heart failure in Nigeria, stated that hypertension was responsible for 45 per cent of all heart failure cases in Nigeria.
In addition, “he declared, “average age of heart failure patient is 52.3 years, which is about 20 years younger than the average of patients with heart failure in Europe and American where it is essentially a problem of the elderly.”
Ogah, a former Abia State Commissioner for Health noting that the burden of heart failure was growing in Africa, said some of its other causes include rheumatic heart disease and ischemic heart disease.
The problem, which occurs in one in five adults over the age of 40 years in an individual’s lifetime, he declared expensive to treat, reduces lifespan and quality of life.
According to him, “over 24.7 million dollars is spent in its management even in the United States of America.”
However, the expert said some other conditions like irregular heartbeat, diabetes and low blood level which sometimes co exist in patients with heart failure could further worsen the outcome of the heart problem.
According to him, global mortality of heart failure is highest in Africa, adding, “in 12 months, 34 per cent of our heart failure patients would have died”, because many patients present late, do not have a social support and cannot buy their drugs.
However, Dr Ogah said that cardiologists in Africa had suggested integrating hypertension and other non-communicable diseases into other existing programmes like HIV at the primary healthcare level to curtail these deaths.
“Identification and treatment of its risk factors should be at the primary health care level. There is also the need for more and larger studies in Africa on heart failure. Clinical trials in novel medication are also lacking,” he concluded.
Heart failure, sometimes known as congestive heart failure, occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should around the body. Its signs and symptoms commonly include shortness of breath, excessive tiredness, coughing (or chronic cough), and leg swelling.
Source: Nigerian Tribune Newspaper