Deaths arising from sudden heart attacks or heart failure which has been on the increase in Nigeria will be reduced hopefully as a high-end medical technology hospital devoted to screening, diagnosis, management and surgery for cardiovascular ailments has opened in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The First Cardiology Consultants hospital is a wholly ‘heart hospital’ promoted by some returning Nigerian medical consultants in the Diaspora. They are led by the Managing Director Yemi Johnson, a globally acknowledged interventional cardiologist with over 30 years practice in the best hospitals and universities in the United States, Kofo Ogunyankin, a professor of medical imaging at Northwestern University, Illinois , United States and Onyekwelu Nzewi, a consultant cardio thoracic surgeon at Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Ireland and Director of Save the Heart Foundation which has been involved in the annual free medical outreach at the UNTH, Enugu in the past six years .
At a guided tour of the hospital located at Thompson Avenue Ikoyi, Lagos for select journalists, both Ogunyankin and Nzewi explained the functionality of the different high tech equipment in the hospital to ensure accurate diagnosis, precise procedures and full proof interventional surgery where necessary.
From the intensive care unit(ICU), high dependence unit or step down room, the operating theatre, the recovering room, all are electronically connected that patients can be monitored all round at different stages of care by different specialists without having to move the patient around like in conventional hospitals.
For instance Nzewi explained that as basic as administering drip to patients may be, it is not set up or counted manually. The pump machines are programmed to deliver drip at any speed as slow as o.1ml per hour and each patient is entitled to six pump machines at the same time that can monitor and perform other functions towards ensuring accurate treatment and recovery.
“Heart attack or cardiac arrest means that the heart has stopped automatically. This machine automated external defibrillator helps us to bring the individual back,” explained Nzewi, saying it can be powered by battery or electricity. He said a patient that suffers heart attack has a big chance of living a normal life if brought within the first 10 minutes of attack. Even beyond the 10 minutes, patient can still be resuscitated at First Cardiology Consultants provided there was continuous heart compression by somebody to generate enough blood going to the head.
Nzewi said the machines were very expensive as the hospital had gone for the best and latest technology which can stand side-by-side what you find in hospitals in the United States and Europe. For instance, he said the intra- aortic balloon pump which is one of the equipment in the hospital has revolutionised the practice of heart surgery as it serves as alternative heart for a patient while the original heart is resting during and after surgery as it is able to increase coronary blood flow and oxygen delivery to the heart. “Here, we don’t do guess work, from diagnosis to surgery everything is programmed to work to precision including how and where the surgeon is going to cut or pass wire in case of surgery, “ Ogunyankin interjected .
On the major causes of cardiovascular diseases, Nzewi identified bad lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, hereditary, and so on. He has a message for Nigerians. In his words, “the stress level in the country is very high and therefore if you are 45 years and above, you must undergo periodic stress test at least once in two years because heart attack is becoming an epidemic in Nigeria . “
If the individual fails the stress test he is subjected to further examination to show the roadmap of the artery flowing and where the blockage occurred. A medical procedure is done to open the blocked artery allowing normal blood flow to the heart.
Government has a role to play in reducing the high rate of sudden death in the country as a result of heart attack. Ogunyankin wants the government to ensure that hypertensive patients get access to affordable drugs, provide good enabling environment in government health care facilities in form of equipment and adequate remuneration for the medical staff to stop them from going on strike. He also advices proper management of the National Health Insurance Scheme to ensure that more people get access to good medical facilities without actually paying for it.
Article by: KEMI AJUMOBI