Years ago certain diseases such as cancer, obesity, coronary artery disease, stroke and other chronic diseases where tagged ‘1st world problems’ (I mean they created the burgers, ice-cream and oil rich fried chicken anyways right?). These countries battled with high morbidity and mortality rates while the 3rd world countries battled with deadly communicable diseases such as malaria, polio, measles, tuberculosis e.t.c.
However, in recent years there has been a transition in health issues, with most countries experiencing a shift in disease burden from communicable to chronic diseases. A transition not many national health agencies are prepared to tackle efficiently.
With the decline in prevalence of many infectious diseases and a steady increment of NCDs as major causes of death, Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries are undergoing epidemiological transition. Africa faces an urgent but ‘neglected epidemic’ of chronic disease.
Over the next ten years the continent is projected to experience the largest increase in death rates from cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases (WHO, 2005).
In Nigeria, Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been estimated to result in 12% of total mortality rate. The estimated mortality rate due to CVD is suggested to be 435.9/100,000 in males and 475.7/100,000 in females. These figures are however not entirely accurate due to the lack of an effective data collection on non-communicable diseases.
Hypertension has been named as the leading cardiovascular disease in Nigeria. There has been an increase in prevalence from 15% – 40% in 20 years. Majority of people suffering from hypertension have been not been diagnosed and are totally ignorant of their blood pressure. Uncontrolled hypertension is dangerous and can result in stroke, and sudden death.
Cardiovascular disease ceases to be a first world problem anymore. It is imperative that national healthcare policies are put in place to promote prevention and management of underlying risk factors.