The Acting Chief Medical Director (CMD), Irrua Spe...t Teaching Hospital in Edo State, Prof. Peter Okokhere has predicted the increase in the incidence of sudden natural deaths (SND) among Nigerians.
Okokhere, a professor of cardiology made the prediction at the 11th Prof. James Ogono memorial lecture organised by the Women?s Health and Action and Research Centre (WHARC), a Benin-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) recently.
Expressing worry over the alarming rate of the incidence of SND in Nigeria, he, however, named the main causes of unnatural sudden death to be road traffic accidents, homicide from violent crimes and natural causes.
Giving different medical definitions of SND, he said the underlining key words were "unexpected deaths within a short period with or without symptoms".
According to him, the incident of SND "is frightening and has put fear into the minds of Nigerians.
"For instance, in one higher institution in Edo State, three professors suffered SND last year alone. The hushed question is: ?who is next???
He added that ?the risk is higher in males, low-birth weight infants, in lower socio-economic levels, during cold months, and for babies who sleep face down.??
The cardiologist, therefore, commended management of WHARC for choosing the topic entitled: "Tackling the menace of Sudden Death and its Travails in Nigeria??, noting however that statistics from recent studies have shown that the recent causes of SND was "ischaemic heart diseases?? (IHD), particularly in Western Europe and North America.
"Although available evidence shows that the prevalence of IHD is relatively low in Nigeria, as in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
"There is the worrying tendency for it to be the most important cause of SND in sub-Saharan Africa in the next three decades if current trends continue,?? he warned.
Describing the IHD as "very deadly", he expressed worry that its incidence was on the increase in Nigeria and Africa countries.
"Unfortunately, while the incidence is decreasing in the developed countries, it is increasing in the developing countries most probably because of harmful lifestyle practices.??
Prof. Okokhere explained that research had shown that the incidence of SND was growing in sub-Saharan countries, attributing its cause to hypertension.
"Clinical and pathological data show that hypertension and its complications are the most common cause of SND in Nigeria, even though the incidence of IHD is increasing gradually," he said.
According to him: "heart disease and stroke are the commonest complications of hypertension that cause SND in Nigeria. This worsening trend may be attributed to the adoption of western lifestyle practices by Nigerians over the years.
"Many studies have conclusively revealed that some lifestyle practices contribute to the incidence and severity of hypertension.
"Environmental factors, such as calorie intake, salt intake, potassium intake, alcohol consumption, physical exercise and rural-urban migration interact with genetic factors to cause hypertension".
He further explained that of these environmental factors, increased calorie intake leads to obesity while increased salt consumption and reduced physical activity are perhaps the most important environmental factors that influence the incidence of hypertension.
To him, the prevalence of the disease might not be too different from what was obtainable in other parts of the world, noting; "our health system is too weak to tackle the menace of SND, especially that due to IHD.??
Okokhere added that as devastating as the disease might seem, appropriate preventive measures must be quickly taken to avert the impeding epidemic
"And If we are to avert the impeding epidemic, the time to start to act is now,?? he said
Earlier, the Executive Director of WHARC, Prof. Cyril Mokwenye, in his opening remarks, described Ogonor as an excellent and distinguished professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, whose death was sudden and ?left all of us perplexed.?
Mokwenye said that WHARC?s intention for choosing the topic of the lecture ?is to bring to the fore the great need for us all to get acquainted with the necessary information concerning how to avoid or reduce the incidence of sudden death.??