THERE is only one heart doctor to attend to 10,000 Nigerians, the Nigerian Cardiac Society revealed on Tuesday.
The ICIR reports that heart doctors, otherwise known as cardiologists, specialise in conditions of the heart and other parts of the cardiovascular system.
In August, a report showed that Nigeria had a doctor-patient ratio of 1 to 5,000 because of brain drain, whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended 1-600.
Addressing journalists at an event preceding its 51st Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference in Abuja, President of the Nigerian Cardiac Society, Okechukwu Ogah, a doctor, said there were only seven cardiologists in the country in 1971 when the association was created.
He said despite the current shortage of cardiologists ratio to the Nigerian population, many doctors were leaving the nation’s shores for greener pastures.
“We have one cardiologist to 10,000 persons in this country,” he said of the current situation in the country.
He added: “This number is not enough. It is dangerous. Still at that, a lot of people are jetting out of the country. We all know about the migration of health workers in this country, meaning that if nothing is done, it is going to be worse in the near future.”
He listed the causes of cardiovascular diseases to include high blood pressure, heart muscle disease, rheumatic heart disease, and heart attack.
Others are excessive alcohol intake and leakage of the heart valves, living in slums, which results in overcrowding, and throat infections that could trigger heart disease.
Symptoms of heart disease, according to him, are hypertension, weakness, swollen leg, difficulty in breathing, and unusual heartbeat, among others.
He said 33 per cent of the Nigerian adult population had high blood pressure.
“This is just the average. In some parts of Nigeria, it is even 40 per cent.
“We know that generally by World Health Organization’s data, in Africa, it is 46 per cent, which is the highest in all the regions of the world. It is a problem that leads to most people who fall, and they have a stroke.
“This is the common reason people look for kidney replacement. This is the reason people have heart failure,” he said.
He said many people having high blood pressure would not know they do, adding that one-third of people with the condition were not on treatment.
He also argued that one-third of people on treatment were not under control.
He said obesity, rising cases of high blood pressure, diabetes, and abnormal rate of cholesterol had taken a leap in the past years, making cardiovascular diseases more worrisome in Nigeria.
“From the evidence we have, seeing that heart disease is becoming rampant in our country, and it is killing a lot of people. It kills our people in the time of their lives when they are supposed to be productive. The reasons are one, we are getting bigger, that is obesity. High blood pressure is becoming more common. We are having more diabetes in society.
Ogah also linked heart disease to poverty.
He said poverty could prevent people from paying for their treatment or even accessing care.
He appealed that universal health coverage should be funded and made to enable people to have more access to healthcare.
The NCS’ conference kicking off on Wednesday, September 21, in the nation’s capital, has the theme: Cardiovascular Disease: From Prevention to Surgical Care, Progress, Gaps, and Prospects.