Muhammad Ali Pate, Nigeria’s coordinating minister of Health and Social Welfare, has attributed about 90 percent of stroke cases in Nigeria to high blood pressure, a condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients.
He said the high incidence of stroke in the country is worsened by a cluster of underlying risk factors, including diabetes, obesity, poor diet, alcohol use, smoking, and physical inactivity.
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In a statement by the Federal Ministry of Health, the minister revealed that hospital-based data show that stroke was the most common cause of adult neurological admissions in many parts of the country.
According to Pate, up to 40 percent of patients admitted for acute strokes in Nigeria do not survive beyond 30 days.
He stated this at a ministerial press briefing to commemorate World Stroke Day with the theme, “Together we are #GreaterThan Stroke,” held in Abuja.
While calling for heightened awareness and proactive measures to combat the high incidence of stroke in Nigeria, Pate said that the federal government launched the National Hypertension Control Initiative (NHCI) in August 2019.
The initiative focuses on strengthening primary healthcare centres (PHCs) to prevent and manage hypertension.
He said the initiative has made significant progress with its simplified hypertension treatment protocol implemented in numerous PHC centres across the country.
In addition, Pate said to support heart emergencies, the Nigerian Heart Foundation had procured Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for deployment in high-population areas such as airports.
“AEDs are portable life-saving medical devices used to revive sudden cardiac arrest victims,” he added.
Pate further stated that the World Stroke Organisation reports that stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting over 12 million people each year.
Pate disclosed that strategic policy documents aimed at preventing cardiovascular diseases had been developed- including a National Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Policy, a Multi-Sectoral Action Plan on NCDs and national guidelines for prevention, control and management of hypertension noting that the Ministry has also developed guidelines for other NCDs- diabetes, and sickle cell disease, and currently implementing the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and Regulations 2019.
The Minister therefore enjoined health workers to come together to share key messages on stroke prevention and take action that will help individuals understand and address these risks.
Chukwuma Anyaike, the director of Public Health Department, stated that Nigeria bears a significant burden of stroke noting that current data indicates crude stroke prevalence rates as high as 1331 cases.