A consultant cardiologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Ramon Moronkola has said that cardiac arrest patients should be treated immediately instead of being rushed to the hospital.
Dr. Moronkola said early intervention can be the difference between life and death for cardiac arrest patients.
He said if cardiac arrest occurs and “nothing is done between a minute and a maximum of 10 minutes, the patient can die.”
Defining cardiac arrest in a layman’s term, Moronkola said it is a situation where the heart stops functioning and it is a sign of the onset of death.
“Cardiac arrest can occur in individuals that seemingly have healthy hearts, they are supposed to be healthy but they can have a cardiac arrest, whether they expose themselves to extreme exercise or excess use of drugs.
“There are other instances where somebody has underlying cardiac issues, so cardiac arrest is just one of the things that lead to their exit.
“One of the major causes of cardiac arrest is a heart attack (myocardial infarction). A heart attack is a situation where people have a blockage in one of the pipes that supply blood to the heart; if there is a blockage, the muscles in the heart will not have oxygen, which will lead to the death of the muscles and when the muscles die, the heart will not function well and if it affects a large portion of muscles in the heart, the heart can quench suddenly,” Moronkola said.
The cardiologist said the abnormal rhythm of the heart is another cause of cardiac arrest.
“It can be inherited in such a way that if they are exposed to extreme exertion or they take some drugs that they react to it.
“All these are what we call cardiovascular diseases and the solution is prevention.”
He said the primary way of prevention is to healthy living.
“Healthy living includes a healthy diet, avoiding excess salt consumption because it can make someone have high blood pressure or make the blood pressure difficult to control.
“The food we eat should be in moderation, the food should contain a lot of vegetables and protein, we should ensure fruits are part of the food we eat and we should avoid saturated fat.
“Smoking should be avoided because it is a major driver of cardiac arrest and excess alcohol intake should be avoided.”
Continuing, he said, the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases are hypertension, obesity, sedentary lifestyle.
“For those with risk factors for CVDs, they should try to diagnose and treat early, and ensure annual medical check-up.
“Those who don’t smoke should ensure that they don’t get into the circle of smoking.”
Moronkola said “Generally, CVDs are common in males. However, CVDs are less common in the female before menopause but when the female gets to menopause, the risk tends to match that of the male counterparts.
“This is because oestrogen (female hormone) protects them from having CVDs but when they get to menopause they lose this hormone.”
He added that age is one of the risk factors of CVDs.
“CVDs are common in the older age group. The older you get, the higher the risk you have of having CVDs.
“It does not mean that it does not happen in the young population considering the risk factors. When a younger person is involved in things that can increase the risk, it can put him at risk of CVDs which can lead to cardiac arrest.”
According to Moronkola, immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation or the use of an automated external defibrillator can help to increase survival rates for cardiac arrest.
These, he said highlight the importance of increased awareness among the public on the use of CPR and AED.
“There is a need for more awareness of CPR, not just for healthcare workers but everyone should be able to carry out the CPR. There should be an increase in the number of citizens on the knowledge of CPR.
“There should also be an increase in the availability of automated defibrillators because one of the things that increase the survival rate of people with cardiac arrest is how early they can get shocked back to life.
“It’s not a matter of rushing the person to the hospital but something has to be done immediately so that when it happens, someone can get help,” Moronkola said.
According to the World Health Organisation, CVDs are the number one cause of death globally as more people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause.
“An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2016, representing 31 per cent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85 per cent are due to heart attack and stroke.
“Over three-quarters of CVD deaths take place in low- and middle-income countries.
“Out of the 17 million premature deaths (under the age of 70) due to noncommunicable diseases in 2015, 82 per cent are in low- and middle-income countries, and 37 per cent are caused by CVDs,” WHO stated.