Sudden Death: Why hearts pack up: Last Thursday, the Transition Committee Chairman of Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, Mr Onyekachi Okoro, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), slumped at a private residence in Umuahia, the capital of the state, and died.
It was reported that the PDP chairman and a close political ally of the deceased, Mr Anthony Nwankwo, confirmed the incident to journalists at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Umuahia, where Okoro was confirmed dead.
Nwankwo said: “The man had a meeting with the Council’s Head of Service and Treasure in Umuahia. Thereafter, he visited the house of our leader. At the place, he went into the rest room. When he came out of the rest room, he started feeling somehow and eventually slumped.”
He added that Okoro was quickly rushed to the hospital. A doctor at FMC said that the council chairman “was brought here dead.”
Last Wednesday, the chairman-nominee for the caretaker committee in Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State, Saibu Adeosun Mulero, suddenly died few hours a few hours to his screening b the state House of Assembly.
A source close to the family volunteered that after dressing up for the trip to Abeokuta, the capital of the state, for the screening, Mulero decided to take a short rest. He never woke up.
The next day, the Kogi West chairman of the PDP, Chief, Kola Ojo, slumped and died. The native of Okoro Gbede in Ijumu Local Government of Area of the state was said to have slumped while playing lawn tennis at his residence in Lokoja, capital of the state.
Confirming the incident, the state publicity secretary of the party, Bode Ogunmola, said: “He was one of the reliable pillars of the party, who did all he could in the last governorship election.”
Few days before the end of last year, a member of the Sokoto State House of Assembly, Isa Harisu, 55, who represented the Kebbe Constituency in the Assembly reportedly collapsed during plenary and was rushed to the Usman Danfodio University Teaching Hospital where he was confirmed dead by doctors.
Harisu is survived by his mother, four wives and 22 children.
A novelty match between Catholic priests in Asaba, the capital of Delta State, ended tragically last December as one of them, Rev. Fr. Uche Ukor, slumped and died.
A source said: “He slumped during a football match between priests of Onitsha diocese and Issele Uku diocese yesterday at Asaba.
“He wasn’t even playing, he was their coach. I’ve been in shock since a mutual friend called me to inform me of his demise.”
Ukor was serving at the Onitsha Archdiocese of the Catholic Church, and was also the Director of the media arm of diocese, publishers of Trinitas Newspaper.
Three months after, people are still talking about the death of a bridegroom who collapsed during his own wedding reception in Amasiri, Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. He was dancing with his bride, Miss Onyinyechi Ugbor, when he slumped and started foaming in the mouth. And the man died.
Last December, a passenger, Chukwuma Ezeh, who returned from China, slumped and died at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos while waiting for his luggage.
Even Gen. Sani Abacha and MKO Abiola allegedly died of cardiac arrest.
Read Also: Prevention of Sudden Death Syndrome
So, why are people dropping dead like dry leaves from tree branches?
Although it is difficult to tell the exact causes of sudden deaths but medical experts link it to cardiovascular diseases, in most cases.
Sudden cardiac death
A medical journal described sudden cardiac death (SCD) as a sudden, unexpected death caused by a change in heart rhythm (sudden cardiac arrest). According to WebMD, “it is the largest cause of natural death in the US, causing about 325,000 adult deaths in the US each year. SCD is responsible for half of all heart disease deaths.”
Difference between heart attack and SCD
“Sudden cardiac arrest is not a heart attack (myocardial infarction) but can occur during a heart attack. Heart attacks occur when there is a blockage in one or more of the arteries to the heart, preventing the heart from receiving enough oxygen-rich blood. If the oxygen in the blood cannot reach the heart muscle, the heart becomes damaged.
“In contrast, sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical system to the heart malfunctions and suddenly becomes very irregular. The heart beats dangerously fast. The ventricles may flutter or quiver (ventricular fibrillation), and blood is not delivered to the body. In the first few minutes, the greatest concern is that blood flow to the brain will be reduced so drastically that a person will lose consciousness. Death follows unless emergency treatment is begun immediately.
What Are the Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
“Some people may experience symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest, such as a racing heartbeat or feeling dizzy, alerting them that a potentially dangerous heart rhythm problem has started. In over half of the cases, however, sudden cardiac arrest occurs without prior symptoms.
What Causes Sudden Cardiac Death?
“Most sudden cardiac deaths are caused by abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. The most common life-threatening arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation, which is an erratic, disorganized firing of impulses from the ventricles (the heart’s lower chambers). When this occurs, the heart is unable to pump blood and death will occur within minutes, if left untreated,” the journal explained.
In an interview with a Lagos newspaper, a consultant cardiologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr Ramon Moronkola, said: “It can happen sometimes that people without prior illness just slump and die. We call that sudden cardiac death. “Sometimes, it can happen when an individual is engaging in a strenuous activity. In some cases, it may occur when the person is at rest. It may be difficult to pinpoint what caused the death because the cause of sudden death generally varies.
“However, cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack could lead to sudden death. Cardiovascular diseases are the ailments that affect the heart and the vessels of the body. Every organ in the body is supplied by vessels. We call them arteries and veins because they take the blood to the organ and other parts of the body. When these arteries have a problem, it can affect the organ they supply blood to.
“Hypertension is increasing in our environment because we are adopting western lifestyles. Also, the fact that most people love foods with high energy and low fibre content appears to worsen the situation. These are the things that cause obesity. The consumption of foods that have high sugar content also contributes to the problem. Most fizzy drinks, for example, have very high sugar content. Unfortunately, people don’t know the implications of what they consume.
“Also, a lot of people have a misconception about alcohol. They talk about little alcohol consumption being good for the body, but the rate of alcohol consumption in our society is unprecedented. Many products are misrepresented as being medicinal, but in reality their contents are pure alcohol.
“When the risk factors are high, it can cause cardiovascular diseases, which in turn lead to sudden death. Giving excuses may seem good to some people, but they should find out about the state of their hearts before engaging in the consumption of alcohol. When you don’t know the state of your heart and you start doing strenuous exercises, there is a possibility that you may slump and die in the process,” he added.
Professor Philip Njemanze, a neurocardiologist and neuroscientist
added that there are dietary habits that result to the formation of clot in the heart or any part of the body
Take this from him: “Number one is not drinking enough water. Though it is said that people should take up to three and half litres of water in a day, but I, as a professional, think that people should take water as much as their blood volume is and the blood volume is between five and six litres. While we advocate that is that when you take enough water as large as your blood volume, you do a one to one exchange. So, as you drink water, the fresh irons from the water you are taking is exchanged with the one existing in your body, which is carrying a lot of waste. So, the waste will go out and new fresh molecules will go in to start for the day. That is why the guardian should be: enough water as your blood volume is.
“The next thing that is very important is what you eat. There are foods that that cause clot formation. Number one of those foods that are commonly used is crayfish. Crayfish contains a particular type of protein that can make blood clot if eaten in a large amount that can make blood to clot. With that kind of binding protein, crayfish should not be taken in large amount.”
Njemanze, who is the Medical Director of Chidicon Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, added that those who relish vegetable soup are playing a dangerous game.
He said: “Another thing is eating too much vegetable. When you eat something like Afang and edikaikong with a lot of vegetables and okro, you will have a lot of Vitamin K. With a lot of Vitamin K, your blood will start clotting. In fact, in the hospital, we use Vitamin K to stop bleeding. That is why any food that is high in Vitamin K is a problem.
“Another group of food are dairy products that have high calcium like milk. If it is taken in large amount and the calcium content is very high, it can make the blood to start to clot. Some nuts, like cashew and almond, are also high in calcium. Another thing is supplements. They are overloaded with some of the nutrients that can clot the blood. You only supplement what you are missing. You don’t supplement when you are very healthy.”