Statistics is still very hazy about the number mortality per annum arising from heart attacks or heart failure which has been on the increase in Nigeria. But medical practitioners and indeed the general public believe the incidence of deaths arising from heart-related ailments have been on the increase in Nigeria inrecent times. This was debated and put in country wide perspective during the 2017 World Heart Day celebration on September 30.
Heart disorder and stroke have become the two most deadly diseases in Nigeria accounting for about 65 per cent mortality among the middle age and the elderly.
To mitigate the high incidence of death arising from heart diseases, a high-end medical technology hospital devoted to screening, diagnosis, management and surgery for cardiovascular ailments has opened in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The First Cardiology Consultants Hospital is a wholly ‘heart hospital’ promoted by some returning Nigerian medical consultants in the Diaspora. They are led by the Managing Director Dr. Yemi Johnson, a globally acknowledged interventional cardiologist with over 30 years practice in the best hospitals and universities in the United States, Dr. Kofo Ogunyankin, a professor of medical imaging at Northwestern University, Illinois, United States and Mr. Onyekwelu Nzewi, a consultant cardio thoracic surgeon at Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Ireland and Director of Save the Heart Foundation, which has been involved in the annual free medical outreach at the UNTH, Enugu, in the past six years.
At a guided tour of the hospital located at Thompson Avenue Ikoyi, Lagos for select journalists both Ogunyankin and Nzewi explained the functionality of the different high tech equipments in the hospital to ensure accurate diagnosis,precise procedures and full proof interventional surgery where necessary. From the intensive care unit (ICU), high dependence unit or step down room, the operating theatre, the recovering room, all are electronically connected that patients can be monitored all round at different stages of care by different specialists without having to move the patient around like in conventional hospitals.
For instance, Nzewi explained that as basic as administering drip to patients may be it is not set up or counted manually. The pump machines are programmed to deliver drip at any speed as slow as o.1ml per hour and each patient is entitled to six pump machines at the same that can monitor and perform other functions towards ensuring accurate treatment and recovery.
“Heart attack or cardiac arrest means that the heart has stopped automatically. This machine automated external defibrillator helps us bring the individual back,” explained Nzewi, saying it can be powered by battery or electricity. He said a heart attack patient has a big chance of living a normal life if brought within the first 10 minutes of attack. Even beyond the 10 minutes patient can still be resuscitated at First Cardiology Consultants provided that there was continuous heart compression by somebody to generate enough blood going to the head.
“The machines were very expensive to assemble as the hospital had gone for the best and latest technology compared to what you find in hospitals in the United States and Europe. For instance, he said the Intra- aortic balloon pump which is one of the equipments in the hospital has revolutionised the practice of heart surgery as it serves as alternative heart for a patient while the original heart is resting during and after surgery as it is able to increase coronary blood flow and oxygen delivery to the heart. “Here we don’t do guess work, from diagnosis to surgery everything is programmed to work to precision including how and where the surgeon is going to cut or pass wire in case of surgery, ” Ogunyankin noted.
On the major causes of cardiovascular diseases, Nzewi identified bad lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, hereditary, etc. He has a message for everybody resident in Nigeria: “the stress level in the country is very high and therefore if you are 45 years and above, you must undergo periodic stress test at least once in two years because heart attack is becoming an epidemic in Nigeria.
“If the individual fails the stress test he is subjected to further examination to show the roadmap of the artery flowing and where the blockage occurred. A medical procedure is done to open the blocked artery allowing normal blood flow to the heart.” Government has a role to play in reducing the high rate of sudden death in the country as a
result of heart attack. Ogunyankin wants the government to ensure that hypertensive patients get access to affordable drugs, provide good enabling environment in government healthcare facilities in form of equipment and adequate remuneration for the medical staff to stop them from going on strike and also properly manage the National Health Insurance Scheme to ensure that more people get access to good medical facilities. All these he said will increase productivity because a healthy population helps to create and increase wealth.