‘How to reduce heart-related deaths’
Worried by the increasing cases of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and related deaths in the country, an American-trained cardiologist and medical director of United Heart Hospital and Clinic, Lagos, Dr. Eugene Nwosu, has proffered solutions.
CVD is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels. Nwosu, a Diplomate American Board of Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases, told The Guardian that eating proper diets, exercising regularly and early detection could curtail the adverse effects of the scourge.
His words: “We have to educate people on the risk factors of heart diseases; in this environment high blood pressure is a big issue and people should know their family history. There are people it runs in their family, and then you have to be proactive. In the early days infectious diseases are the big killers, but with people leaving the villages for urban city, nobody wants to walk again.
“How many people are eating vegetables? Diet is important. Healthier environments are very active. They walk up to 17,000 steps a day. We need to cut back on the sugary stuffs and smoking.
Nigerians are beginning to gain weight and it is a sign of bad metabolic syndrome. By teaching people preventive measures they can decrease the scourge.” The specialist insisted that prevention is the best thing. “When you wait to get the disease it might be too late.
The most important thing is for people to know how to prevent heart disease and awareness is very important,” he said. The doctor also said that people might be having angina because their arteries are clogged up.
Angina or rather chest pain is a warning sign of heart disease, and recognizing it and getting treated early may prevent a heart attack. “They think its indigestion; they stay home taking antacid, without knowing it is heart disease. The key is that if you want to have a heart attack, and you recognise it and show up early, the heart attack might be aborted. If you go to the right doctor that knows what to do, they will prevent it and treat you without having heart damage,” Nwosu said.
Nwosu added: “if your artery is clogged up completely, no blood flow, that is the onset of heart attack. If you can open those arteries within four hours the damage will be minimal. The earlier you arrive the better it will be. If you are having a severe chest pain and you show up in the right heart centre and the arteries opened, you will be completely fine, if you show up 12hours late it is going to affect you, and your activities. Prevention is very important and then educating people of the signs so as to get early treatment. Superior doctor prevents but the inferior doctor cures.”
He revealed that Nigeria is catching up with the Western world in the area of heart disease due to change in eating habits. Nwosu, a team player, who believes in community outreach, said the situation in Nigeria over the years in the area of health care has gone down due to lack of funding and poor infrastructure. Nwosu, with the zeal to serve his fatherland returned after 33 years of postgraduate medical training and cardiology practice in the United States of America (U.S.) because he believes he can make a difference in his specialty of cardiovascular diseases.
He said: “I know the need here and this stage in my life I need to come back home. We have a foundation called Goodness and Mercy that is doing medical missions and we have extended to Ghana. I hear about medical tourism. People are going to Indian, South Africa, Europe, America United Kingdom (UK), and Germany just for care. It does not make any sense; we have a lot of Nigeria professionals in America and UK. The numbers are huge and most of us are successful and we have talents.”
On what informed the establishment of the hospital, Nwosu added: “Two years ago, I decided to make the move; the idea is to bring cardiovascular care to this community. It is going to be a full service hospital, we will provide all the cardiology test and treatment available and more importantly we will be the first chest pain centre in Lagos actually in Nigeria. People with chest pain can come here for diagnosis and take their treatment. We plan to do cardiology procedures, though a few of them cannot be done here. My hope is that in future we will be able to encourage other Nigerian professionals to come home.
“In spite of all the challenges and negative news there is still life in Nigeria and you can make a difference. We want to practise cardiology same level we practise in UK and US. We will not bring down the standard, we will keep the standard and build enabling environment because what discourages people from coming home is the lack of infrastructure. If we can create that it will be easier to give them a soft landing.”
On the challenges encountered in setting up the hospital in Nigeria, the cardiologist, said: “The culture needs to change. I can tell you that people are not committed. The work ethics are terrible; people expect to be paid without performing. We opened and started training on customer service, how to give quality service, how to live on values, teamwork, accountability and transparency. There is a lot of fraud here. People want to cheat you but it does not take you anywhere.
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