Thursday, 5 October 2017

Experts Call for Basic Life Support against Cardiac Arrest, Sudden Death

…thick muscles and chests as one of the causes of sudden death
Rebecca Ejifoma


Chief Executive Officer, Georgia Arrhythmia Consultants and Research Institute, Dr. Felix Sogade and certified Electrophysiologist, Cardiovascular Diseases and Internal Medicine, Dr. Joseph Poku have called on all Nigerians to learn basic life support skills as efforts to reduce the alarming incidence of sudden deaths among blacks including Nigerians.

They said this at the awareness symposium on cardiac arrest held at the Healings Stripes Hospital Foundation, Victoria Island, Lagos.

According to Sogade there is low knowledge about the importance of basic life support in the country. He said that the victim of cardiac arrest could be resuscitated and have pulse for 10 minutes before emergency help arrives.

He explained that from the onset of cardiac arrest till the person dies, each minute is very important. “After the sufferer is resuscitated, if assistance does not come within 10 minutes the chance of surviving is zero. So, there is need for people around the victim to act quickly and be able to take step to restore the heart back to regular rhythms.”

Sogade added: “About 40 per cent of people who die suddenly, die at home in their sleep – may be difficult to intervene - and the other 60 per cent may die during physical activities or working hours, may have chance of surviving when aids come at appropriate time.

As an Associate Professor of Medicine, Mercer University School of Medicine and Chairman, Board of Directors for the Association of Black Cardiologists in United State of America, Sogade listed some of the causes of sudden death condition that is common among blacks around the world.

“Some of the causes among other multiple conditions responsible are: when the heart muscle is very thick due to thickness of the heart muscle. When they exercise themselves, there is not enough blood flowing to the heart. It is good for someone to build big muscles and big chest, but in the heart that is very bad because the muscles do not get enough blood supply. When they now focus on physical exercises like table tennis or playing a competitive sport, they further compromise blood flow to that area of the heart and the heart will go into a dangerous abnormal rhythm and they die,” he expressed.


While maintaining that sudden death could occur in different circumstances, he described the commonest reasons. Someone may die suddenly as due to an abnormal rhythm, blockage in the blood vessel and the heart beats extremely fast and very erratic, which makes blood pressure drop. “When that happens, there is no blood flow to the heart and to the brain. And if that continues for a period of time, the person dies. After 10 minutes if you don't resuscitate that person, there is a chance that the person dies.”

“If a person slums on the tennis court, the best thing is to compress on that person's chest. You may be able to restore some blood flow and be able to buy them some time until at least some emergency help arrives. And that may make a difference between life and death,” he advised.

Sadly, he warned against not paying attention to the body. “A lot of people should pay attention. If they are feeling extensive dizziness or like their heart is skipping, they have blacked out or fainted before, they should take thorough evaluation. Don’t just ascribe it to the fact that you didn't sleep well or are tired from a busy day at work.”

Sogade, therefore, urged people to pay attention to some signs of cardiac arrest. “When someone is falling asleep uncontrollably during normal working hours, heart skipping, history of faint, they should seek medical evaluation and not ascribe it to lack of enough sleep or fatigue.”

“For most people – especially 50 years above – one of the symptoms they will have is heart failure, when they are walking they get short of breath easily, they may also have swelling in their legs, they may have to sleep with couples of pillow. What that indicates is that the heart is not pumping effectively to meet the demand of the body.

Poku
Meanwhile, the certified Electrophysiologist, Poku, pointed out some risk factors for sudden death in adults as: high blood pressure, diabetics, smoking and overweight. “To know your heart function, you can do echocardiogram, electrocardiogram and electrical recording of the heart.”

“Next year Georgia Arrhythmia Consultants and Research Institute in partnership with Arrhythmia foundation among other organisation will organise training on basic life support in Lagos,” he added.

Accordingly, Poku said that if everyone learnt the basic life support skills, it would save the lives of many who lose consciousness. “We will also bring automatic external defibrillator, which is easy to use. We have donated to some institutions in Nigeria in the past.”

Poku alongside Sogade unanimously said it was important for everyone to learn how to do basic life support. “It is very important to learn it.  You can make the difference for somebody's life.”

On the importance of the symposium to these experts, Doctor in Charge, Healing Stripes Hospital Foundation, Dr Ezinne Onyemere, said that the educational symposium aimed at impacting knowledge of practising doctors in the country so that they could have better outcomes in patients’ management.

“This symposium today is to create an opportunity for doctors to acquire knowledge on cardiac emergencies, electrocardiogram interpretation and implantation of electrical recording devices,” she added.