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AFCON 2023: Doctors explain cause of death during Nigeria, South Africa match, give advice  

AFCON 2023: Doctors explain cause of death during Nigeria, South Africa match, give advice  

Nigerians have been warned to avoid watching football matches if they are hypertensive.

Medical experts in the country have warned hypertensive patients against participating in activities that cause excitement or put much pressure on the heart.

Speaking on the possibilities of what could have happened to those who died while watching the football match between Nigeria and South Africa on Wednesday, consultant cardiologist, federal medical centre, Jabi, Dr. Salau Ibrahim, said the sudden collapse could be as a result of stroke, sudden heart attack or stress-induced heart problems.

The cardiologist said age matters a lot and for people who are older and have other problems like heart issues or the kidney, they need to be very careful about things that stress the organs, especially the heart.

He cautioned against anxiety or stress, explaining that anxiety is a form of emotional stress.”

Dr. Salau said the major causes of such sudden deaths are stroke or heart attack.

“Like the two incidents that happened on Wednesday, it could be that they had heart attack or abnormal heart reading. it’s possible they are hypertensive, diabetic and have not been checking themselves.

“So, it’s either they had heart attack or they had cardiac arrhythmia, which can predispose someone to having cardiac arrest. Everything still falls under cardiac arrest.

“Those are the major things. Regular check and lifestyle modification is very important. If you have any background comorbidity like hypertension or diabetes, ensure you take your medications regularly,” he advised.

Hypertensives can watch football but…

Dr. Salau said “You can watch football even if you are hypertensive but you need to be sure that your blood pressure is well regulated, and taking your medication adequately.

“Being hypertensive is not a contradiction to watching football but you need to know the status of your heart before you watch that kind of very intense game.

“Avoid watching football among the crowd that can put pressure on you,” he advised.

Also, a consultant cardiologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr Ramon Moronkola has linked the possible causes of deaths during the football match to stroke as a result of cardiac arrest and heart or brain issue.

Moronkola said when there is emotional surge, which is a sudden increase of an emotion, many things could go wrong.

“Your adrenaline is pumping and your blood pressure could go up immediately. For someone that has underlying cardiovascular disease that is not well managed, that person could suffer from a sudden cardiac arrest, which could lead to death.

“For example, if the person has myocardial ischemic heart disease, which occurs when blood flow to your heart is reduced, preventing the heart muscle from receiving enough oxygen, that emotional surge could make that person develop heart attack which could lead to sudden death,” he explained

Other possibilities

The physician also identified another possibility as having heart failure that is not properly managed, adding that when such a person is experiencing emotional surge due to the match, that could lead to sudden death as well.

He said emotional surge can also lead to abnormal heart beat, which can also lead to sudden death.

In essence, for those with underlying diseases like hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol around the heart area, cardiac arrest is inevitable due to emotional surge as a result of the match, he affirmed.

He said there is another set of people who may not have had heart disease prior to the match, but they have genetic predisposition that made their heart go into abnormal heart beating due to emotional surge, which could lead to death.

Regular heart check

The cardiologist, therefore, urged Nigerians to have regular heart check.

“Please go for regular heart check, Moronkola stated, adding that, “Do not wait until you have symptoms or until a problem arises before you go to the hospital. It might be too late, as with the case of Wednesday. If you are diagnosed with any heart condition, please treat it well.

Emotional control

For those who already know their heart status, the cardiologist advised them to control their emotion properly. “If watching the match can make you experience emotional surge, then don’t watch,” he appealed to Nigerians.

Emergency response

Speaking further, he said this is also a wake-up call for the government to ensure that the country’s emergency response system is well developed, the cardiologist stated, adding that, “This involved training everybody on how to do basic resuscitation.

“Government should ensure that places like airport, supermarket and churches etc, where people are gathered should have a Automated External Defibrillator (AED), which is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It’s a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, medical device that can analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.”



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