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‘Rate Of Heart Attacks Can Be Reduced’

‘Rate of heart attacks can be reduced’

Concerned with the rise in sudden deaths caused by heart diseases in the country, a United States-based cardilogist, Dr Kamar Adeleke, has resolved to reduce the figure.

He is partnering the University Teaching Hospital (UCH), Ibadan and the Babcock University, Ilisan to train cardiologists. He has also  established a cath-lab in Lagos.

Heart disorders include arrhythmia, angina, heart aneurysms, heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects and rheumatic heart disease.

Adeleke, who left the country at age seven, said having trained as a cardiologist in Wilmington, Daleware, US, he was ready for the task at home.

He said he resolved to help based on his experience in 2014, when he came to Nigeria on a medical mission with 68 clinicians for one week and treated about 5, 000 people.

Then he  sampled eight people for  heart screening. Of the number, six had  heart  blockade. Yet, nobody knew. He was alarmed and said something must be done about it.

Adeleke agreed to collaborate with the UCH. An agreement was signed to manage the UCH Cath-lab for 10 years. “We have been there for six months. We have done 42 open-heart surgeries, and interventions,” he said.

“The beauty of it is that, we did them for free because the poor are the mostly affected. Of the 42, 70 percent were children. And of this, 75 percent cannot pay and we are compelled to do it for free. This is not sustainable at all. With government things, there are a lot of issues but we’ve not packed it up. But this experience afforded us to train 15 nurses in critical care, because none has done it before. I brought in all those sub-specialists with me from the US during the medical mission. So, when the six months of the 10 years picked up, the open heart transplants are being done by Nigerians. Tristate aims to train local capacity.

‘’Cardio-vascular disease is the number one non-communicable disease in the world. Unfortunately for Nigeria, we do not have enough capacity to checkmate all that,” he added.

He explained that at Babcock University, “we established Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre. It costs about $10million. We had to engage cardiologists who are already there through Fellowship programme in interventional training. We set out to make open heart surgery affordable and accessible. We want to take heart care and treatment to the grassroots.

“At the moment, we have a N20 million project in Lagos. Nigeria is a very tough country to do business. We are trying to woo people and investors, who will be part of the kick-off of the noble thing we are doing, so that people do not die needlessly. We do hope that Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in Lagos and Abuja will be ready before the end of the year. We will stand out in training and clinical care. We are going to aggressively train Nigerians.”

Adeleke said for Nigerians to have a reduction in the escalating cardiac arrest cases, people should know their numbers. “You must know your Blood Pressure (Bp). High blood pressure is defined as anything over 140/90. Low blood pressure is 130/85. Pre-hypertension is in-between. The only way to know the number is not through ‘babalawo’, church or mosque, but through a medical doctor.

“Know your blood sugar levels, i.e, fasting blood sugar. Sleep all night. Wake up in the morning, which means 10 hours of not eating, draw your blood and put on stripe … your blood sugar should be less than 100mlg/dc. If it is more than that, the person is prediabetic. In that case, another test called HeamoglobinAYC will be done, to know how good the blood is and how best to prevent diabetes.”

He said cholesterol level and obesity are the others. People should know their ideal body weight. All these must be closely monitored from age 30. “From age 50, get coloroscopy done. From age 50, if male, do prostate cancer screening, if female do mammogram. If there are family histories, those cancer screenings must be done from 30 years.

“Prostate cancer is a big thing for men. It is sky rocketing. BSA screening is adding a lot of cost. The man that invented the BSA screening invented it to manage people who already have cancer. But since it was a money-spinning thing due to its sensitivity, it was being used for screening,” he stated.

Adeleke said he would handle the clinical aspect. “The average life expectancy for Nigerians is now 50. In US, it is 78.9 years. In Cuba, it is 80 years. That is a huge difference of 30 years comparatively. People are dying in their most productive age. And the number one cause of death in Nigeria is heart attack. The second is by stroke. The availability of services is what makes the difference between the casualty figures. When heart attack happens, we have 90 minutes to get to the heart to open the artery that is causing the blockage and save the sufferer or else death results. Can you then imagine taking a patient from Lagos to Babcock or from Babcock to Ibadan/ There has to be a facility within the reach of our people.

“We have done 132 open heart surgeries with success rate of 98.5 percent. So also a 100 percent at the Cath-Lab. We charge from $5,000 to $6, 000 but in the US, it costs $75 to $100, yet we are using the same equipment. As a matter of fact, the equipment here are better than those I have in the US. We know now that we can provide the services at affordable cost. Per the training, I can attest to the fact that Nigerians are very brilliant. What we don’t have is the opportunity to have first-class equipment to train with back home here. Those that were trained in cardiology, local and in Diaspora are already consultants. We need to prepare younger hands. Those two ladies I trained in open heart surgery at Babcock were aggressively prepared and trained in the last two years. They are already close, they have less than 50 percent gap to catch up with their counterparts in the US and Europe. We won’t be running the services free so as to make it sustainable. Unfortunately, there is no help from the government.”

On ways to reduce sudden death Adeleke said: “I will also talk of preventive medicine. I asked why there is a huge figure of heart attack here in Nigeria and I realised that there are so many risk factors. Nigerians have imported and imbibed a life style of the Western World. In the US, seven out of 10 Americans will die of stroke because of the risk factors.  One is heart pressure, diabetes (high sugar in blood), high cholesterol, lack of exercise, and stress. Once you have two or more risk factors, you are in. A sub-Sahara African who is above 18 will have a high heart pressure. Not realising this, you see everybody going for fast foods, not minding that those are the kind of food that is killing Americans. As a nation we cannot lie to one another. Same thing with cigarette smoking. In the US, cigarette is properly labelled, unlike here. The government should take care of its people. It should embark on what on how to avoid what can kill people and what cannot.

“Like telling people: ‘If you are able to control your blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol, avoid extreme stress and sedimentary life, you are better off because prevention is better than cure. No cardiologist is happy receiving patients with heart attack when it can be prevented.

The Chief Operating officer (COO), Tristate Cardio-vascular, Olukunle Iyanda, said the vision is to make cardiac healthcare delivery system in Nigeria to become one of the best that exists in the world. “It is doable”, he said.

Dr Iyanda said: “Cardiologists want people free of stroke. Compared with America, Nigeria has no facility where cardiologists can practise, hence my resolve to put up top-notch facilities across Tristates in Nigeria. In US, people have been attacked but didn’t die because they have facilities to go to when attacked.

“Look at Cuba, with life expectancy of 80 percent, which is better than that of US. It has no kind of money the US have, yet has better quality lifestyle. The reason is simple, primary healthcare. It is a preventive organ of medical care.

“Through that, the Federal Government can reach out to its people on nutrition- avoiding fast or junk foods, do not gain weight.”

He said: “Research is the arsenal for preventive medicine, what is good for the goose may not be good for the gander. What we use in treating Caucasians may not be too ok for treating black people. For now, we must first treat arrest and then maintain a preventive care. Nigeria should learn not to put the cart before the horse. Before resolving to do a high-end OBGY for instance there must be a sound obstetrician who can deliver the baby, a qualified pediatrician to handle the baby with the help of incubator, oxygen, suction machine etc. Man power is better acquired before equipment.

“Nigeria should learn not to put the cart before the horse. Before resolving to do a high-end OBGY for instance there must be a sound obstetrician who can deliver the baby, a qualified pediatrician to handle the baby with the help of incubator, oxygen, suction machine etc. Man power is better acquired before equipment.”

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