Preventive measures against stroke — THISDAY Editorial

Posted by News Express | 29 October 2022 | 421 times

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Worried by the growing number of fatalities, the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation last year organised a sensitisation programme over rising cases of stroke, especially among civil servants in the country. When somebody has a stroke, according to the United Nations which has set aside 29th October every year to raise awareness about the disease, “every second that goes by is crucial. As brain tissue and millions of neurons begin to fade away, time could not be more precious.”  

The world stroke organisation (WSO) contends that 90 per cent of strokes are associated with identifiable risk factors that include diet, weight, alcohol, hypertension, exercise, smoking, cholesterol, depression, stress, etc. Increasing awareness of these risk factors will help in reducing the burden. Sadly, little is being done in that direction in Nigeria today hence stroke has become a serious health challenge. 

Last year, a team of Nigerian researchers from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, and Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, conducted a research to garner information about how to best improve outcomes for stroke patients in Nigeria. The researchers, Babawale Arabambi, Olajumoke Oshinaike, Shamsideen Abayomi Ogun, Chukwuemeka Eze, Abiodun Hamzat Bello, Steven Igetei, Yakub Yusuf, Rashidat Amoke Olanigan and Sikirat Yetunde Ashiru identified only five centres among 58 tertiary hospitals with stroke-specific units. “The oldest was established in 2010 and the newest in 2021,” said Arabambi. “Based on the number of patients admitted to these five centres alone, we believe that more stroke units are certainly needed at other hospitals in Nigeria.” 

Meanwhile, several medical studies have proven most chronic diseases in the country to be rooted in poor nutrition; hence, it is most common that hospital patients are advised to watch their dietary intake first before any other health tips. Conventional wisdom teaches that the kitchen is the best hospital while food is the best medicine. Unfortunately, this is one area Nigerians take with huge levity, mostly on the excuse of poor economic conditions, busy schedule and ignorance. 

While life expectancy alone does not reflect the expected number of years an individual would live with optimal health, the low life expectancy in Nigeria is a reflection of our state of healthcare delivery system. Of grave concern is that in recent times, there has been a total absence of any keen desire by the government, at all levels, to clean the environment for Nigerians to enjoy healthier lives. Indeed, in many cities across the country, environmental pollution has become a major public health issue. That perhaps accounts for why there is an increase in cases of terminal ailments like cancer, hypertension/stroke, and other needless ailments and deaths. 

To address the increasing rate of Nigerians dying from these preventable diseases, awareness about the condition needs to be promoted, particularly among those in the age bracket of 15 – 45 years. Experts are of the view that Nigerians should be more health conscious and do routine medical checks. A healthy lifestyle is also highly recommended. People are advised to eat right, reduce excessive refined sugar, and reduce their salt and fat intake while increasing their vegetable and fruit intake. Besides, they must stop smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, reduce weight and exercise regularly. 

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the 2022 World Stroke Day tomorrow, these recommended measures will help in reducing the scourge of stroke that is assuming an epidemic proportion. Prevention, as the old saying goes, remains the best cure for ailments like stroke.

Source: News Express

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