Revoking Appointment With The Grim Reaper? Avoid Watching Football If Hypertensive, Doctors Warn

By Isaac Asabor

It is not an exaggeration to opine that the unprecedented death toll that charactized the Super Eagles’ and the Bafana Bafana’s match in the semi-finals of the ongoing African Cup of Nations has left many wondering if the Grim Reaper had resolved to strike only when people are rejoicing.

For the sake of clarity, “Death” is known as the Grim Reaper, depicted as wearing a dark hooded cloak and wielding a scythe.

The reason for the foregoing gruesome fact cannot be farfetched as no less than five persons died while watching the match between Super Eagles and BafanaBafana of South Africa on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.

For instance, as reported in the Punch Newspaper of today, February 9, 2024, in a feature story titled, “Tragic loss: Super Eagles mourn fans’ deaths during AFCON semi-finals”, “No less than five persons had died while watching the match between Super Eagles and BafanaBafana of South Africa on Wednesday”.

As gathered, a former member of the House of Representatives who represented the Ika Federal Constituency of Delta State, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, reportedly died while watching the AFCON semi-finals.

Also, a sales representative, Mikail Osundiji, said to be working with Nestle Plc. reportedly slumped and died while watching the match in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

According to the feature story, “Others who had died while watching the match include: Deputy Bursar of Kwara State University, Malete, Alhaji Ayuba Abdullahi; and a Nigerian graduate and corps member named Samuel.

“They had all slumped and died following a heavy shock after the referee nullified Nigeria’s second goal against South Africa, put in the net by striker Victor Osimhen and awarded a penalty kick in favour of South Africa”.

Given the foregoing gory incidents, medical experts in the country have warned hypertensive patients against participating in activities that trigger excitement or put much pressure on the heart.

Speaking on the possibilities of what could have happened to those who died while watching the football match between Nigeria and South Africa on Wednesday, consultant cardiologist, Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, Dr. Salau Ibrahim, said the sudden collapse could be as a result of stroke, sudden heart attack or stress induced heart problem.

The cardiologist who specifically spoke with the Leadership newspaper said that age matters a lot, and for people who are older and have other problems like heart issues or the kidney, they need to be very careful about things that stress the organs, especially the heart, and therefore cautioned against anxiety or stress, explaining that anxiety is a form of emotional stress.

Salau said the major causes of such sudden deaths arestroke or heart attack.

He explained, “Like the two incidents that happened on Wednesday, it could be that they had heart attack or abnormal heart reading. It’s possible they are hypertensive, diabetic and have not been checking themselves.

“So, it’s either they had heart attack or they had cardiac arrhythmia, which can predispose someone to having cardiac arrest. Everything still falls under cardiac arrest.

“Those are the major things. Regular check and lifestyle modification is very important. If you have any background comorbidity like hypertension or diabetes, ensure you take your medications regularly,” he advised.

Salau said “You can watch football even if you are hypertensive but you need to be sure that your blood pressure is well regulated, and taking your medication adequately.

“Being hypertensive is not a contradiction to watching football but you need to know the status of your heart before you watch that kind of very intense game.

“Avoid watching football among the crowd that can put pressure on you,” he advised.

Also, a consultant cardiologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr. Ramon Moronkola has linked the possible causes of deaths during the football match to stroke as a result of cardiac arrest and heart or brain issue.

Moronkola said that when there is emotional surge, which is a sudden increase of an emotion, many things could go wrong.

“Your adrenaline is pumping and your blood pressure could go up immediately. For someone that has underlying cardiovascular disease that is not well managed, that person could suffer from a sudden cardiac arrest, whichcould lead to death.

“For example, if the person has myocardial ischemic heart disease, which occurs when blood flow to your heart is reduced, preventing the heart muscle from receiving enough oxygen, that emotional surge could make that person develop heart attack which could lead to sudden death,” he explained

The physician also identified another possibility as having heart failure that is not properly managed, adding that when such a person is experiencing emotional surge due to the match,that could lead to sudden death as well.

He said emotional surge can also lead to abnormal heart beat, which can also lead to sudden death.

In essence, for those with underlying diseases like hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol around the heart area, cardiac arrest is inevitable due to emotional surge as a result of the match, he affirmed.

He said there is another set of people who may not have had heart disease prior to the match, but they have genetic predisposition that made their heart go into abnormal heart beating due to emotional surge, which could lead to death.

Given the foregoing, the cardiologist, therefore, urged Nigerians to have regular heart check.

“Please go for regular heart check, Moronkola stated, adding that, “Do not wait until you have symptoms or until a problem arises before you go to the hospital. It might be too late, as with the case of Wednesday. If you are diagnosed with any heart condition, please treat it well.

For those who already know their heart status, the cardiologist advised them to control their emotion properly. “If watching the match can make you experience emotional surge, then don’t watch,” he appealed to Nigerians.

Speaking further, he said this is also a wake-up call for the government to ensure that the country’s emergency response system is well developed, the cardiologist stated, adding that “This involved training everybody on how to do basic resuscitation.

“Government should ensure that places like airport, supermarket and churches etc., where people are gathered should have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), which is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It’s a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, medical device that can analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.”

In the same vein, consultant family physician at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Dr. Chira Obiora, added to the advice by saying that people can watch football but they should first of all know their health challenges.

Obiora said “If your health challenges get stimulated, watching football will release adrenaline which can cause problem especially if you have a cardiovascular problem.

“It can trigger a heart problem and the person can have heart attack and die. It can even trigger stroke in some people especially if they are not controlling their blood pressure very well. That is why excitement can kill somebody.

“Excitement, whether positive or negative, there are hormones that are released. That hormone is known as adrenaline; that is the hormone released when one is excited. It also releases it in anxiety, so what happens is that this hormone, one of the functions is that it can narrow blood vessels and make the blood pressure to increase a bit.

“So if one is having a pressure problem, it can trigger it or if the pressure is not good enough, it can even burst because if it is narrower, the pressure in the vessels will increase, so that is how it stringers heart attack. Even the narrowness of blood vessels can cause different forms of cardiovascular phenomenon to arise; from heart attack to stroke to even the clot in the blood vessel which can even detach and go and block somewhere, it can cause pulmonary embolism or any other thing,” he explained.

The family physician advised that the general thing is for people to go for general medical checks especially as it relates to age and family history. “That is the basic thing,” he said, while stating that someone who is hypertensive can watch football if the person is doing the right thing; controlling his or her blood pressure, doing medical checkup and trying as much as possible to have positive outflow so that the person will not be tensed unnecessary.

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