Why cardiologists are interrogating economic recession, high blood pressure link, by Uwaezuoke
Dr. Tochukwu Uwaezuoke is a Chief Consultant Cardiologist at the National Hospital, Abuja and Chairman of Local Organizing Committee for the 45th Annual General Meeting /Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Cardiac Society. In this interview with EMEKA ANUFORO in Abuja, he speaks on efforts by the Society to promote local treatment of cardiovascular diseases, among other issues.
What would be the key focus of this year’s conference?
The theme for this year’s conference would be ‘The Heart in a Changing Environment’. That includes the environmental changes that you know (pollution and others). We are also interested in knowing how the economic changes can affect the heart. We expect up to 400-500 cardiologists and cardiac related professionals to attend.
What possible effects can the environment have on the heart?
Things like high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and others all have effect on the heart. Recently, new researches have found out that air and noise pollution also play a major role in worsening the effect of high blood pressure, in worsening the effect of heart cirrhosis and that has a lot of impact.
Even recently, we found out that the kind of water one uses can also have an impact. People who live in places where there are air pollution like the Niger Delta region are bound to be higher risks of heart disease there. The same applies to people in places where there are bomb blasts. There is also bound to be higher rates because of the impacts of noise and air pollution on the heart.
These ailments have been described as silent killers. How often would you advise people to go for checks?
This is actually something that is very important. Nigerians don’t go check themselves until they are ill. When people come to me and say they have been well and haven’t gone for checks, I give them the analogy of the car. If people could take their cars for scan and servicing every three months, I don’t see why their health should not be checked and reviewed every three months.
We know that the economic climate is now tough. So, basically, everybody, every adult Nigerian should be checked at least once in a year. That includes blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, ECGs and the basic things.
In years gone past, we used to troop abroad to get these things done. The economy is now bad and many people can’t afford to go travel out of the country.
That has created an opportunity for people to look inwards. Those things that Nigerians go abroad for are here. It is just about having trust. More so, if we patronize our local hospitals and doctors, we will build capacity; we will have more funds to invest. These things are available in most hospitals here. Most hospitals can do blood sugar, cholesterol, and indeed, the basic things are available. Yes, we lack some specialized equipment. But those things are becoming increasingly available in more areas in Nigeria especially in Abuja and Lagos.
Who are your partners for this conference?
We have specialists coming from all over the world.
There are cardiologists that we are expecting from America, Europe, and Australia. But aside the technical aspect, there are also a lot of help and assistance that we have gotten from drug and equipment companies.
As part of advocacy, we intend to do some medical mission. We are still working out what and what are available to be able to run free checks and treatment for members of the public during the conference.
The Society has holding its conference since 1971. We are trying to reduce the burden through preventive and curative strategies.
The Nigerian Cardiac society strives to disseminate current and evidence-based information on cardiovascular diseases to the public, as well as promote the adoption of healthy life-styles by the general public through adoption of cardiovascular disease preventive measures that have been borne out of research.
The Conference will be held from the 21st until the 23rd of September. There will be a pre-conference workshop to be held two days before then. The workshop is where we train our colleagues in skills, hands on skills to be able to manage cases in Nigeria.
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