Cardiologists raise alarm over prevalence of hypertensive heart disease

A fresh alarm has been raised about the rise of a type of heart disease known as the hypertensive heart disease in hospitals across the federation. An estimate of 5 in 8 brought-in patients who reported cases of hypertension are said to be at risk of a late stage of cardiac shutdown.


A group of top cardiologists from major University Teaching Hospitals in the country, under the umbrella of the Heart Failure Technical Board (HFTB), raised the alarm at a recent media briefing held in Lagos, revealing that heart disease has become a major cause of death in the nation’s hospitals in recent times.


According to the Chairman of the group, who is a Consultant Cardiologist from Obafemi Awolowo University, Professor Michael Olabode Balogun, “Heart failure is deadlier than HIV and all cancers put together except for lung cancer”.


But he said, “The greatest challenge of the heart in Nigeria at this time is the complication arising from hypertension known as hypertensive heart disease. Hypertension causes the majority of heart failure and death.


“Over 50 per cent of people who suffer heart failure die after six months of initial diagnosis. In the hospitals heart failure prevalence has risen to 5 in 8 patients who come into the hospital for admission.”


Speaking about other causes of heart failure, Professor Ibraheem Katibi, a consultant cardiologist, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) said, “Anything that affects either the electricity of the heart, the muscles of the heart, the covering of the heart, the arteries that supply blood to the heart or pressure arising from stress can trigger a heart failure.”


He also said, “Heart failure may not show immediate symptoms. This is why most patients who already have symptoms and signs of heart failure are in the late stage”.


Defining heart failure as a breakdown of the heart due to overwhelming burden, Professor Amam Mbakwem, a consultant cardiologist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) reeled out the risk factors of heart disease. They include unhealthy eating habits, obesity, lack of regular exercise, heavy alcohol intake among others.


To prevent complications arising from hypertension, Professor Mbakwem also said keeping a healthy lifestyle and visiting medical hospital regularly to check uric acid, cholesterol level, while continuing with monthly medication would effectively manage the condition.


At the end of the event organised by Novartis, Professor Balogun enjoined cardiologists across the nation to start heart failure clinics beside the general cardiology clinic to enable easy access to treatment.


“We have been teaching our doctors on the effective management of heart failure, correcting mistakes they are making and we intend to take the information to the general practitioners outside the teaching hospital setting. Having done all that, we can then take it to the community,” he said appealing for concerted efforts to tackle the menace.


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