By Dr. Ovundah Nyeche
Mama was very sound and went to the village for a function, she was apparently as fit as a fiddle when she left. She was speaking in the village meeting when she slumped and started having seizures.
Mama was not a known epileptic, mama had high BP but was not regular with her drugs in fact she argued she had been cured, Mama also had diabetes.
Mama was taken to a spiritual home, they had to send this strange evil sickness back to sender, they also had to cast it away, they then sent a message to her children in the city who were educated but who believed deep in their heart this was not normal and in fact this was sent.
After 3 days it was obvious mama was not making any improvement and so she was exported back to the city and brought to the hospital, Mama had a stroke.
Aunty had a very terrible headache, throbbing and banging, she had a packet of paracetamol and other mixed drugs from the chemist by her side, she had been taking them all to no avail.
Aunty stood up to go and do her chores and as she was ironing she feel down to the ground and called for help, she was helped on her feet but it was noticed she could no longer stand or make use of one part of her body, her relatives simply left her at home.
Hours later she was noticed to be having frequent seizures, the cry from her daughter attracted her neighbours, who poured her all manners of things, beat her repeatedly so the seizures would stop and put garri turner, spoon and a metal in her mouth, to stop her from clenching her teeth and biting her tongue.
They would inflict so much injury on her mouth, knock off some teeth and dislocate her jaw, moments later, Aunty slipped into unconscious and boom they remembered that there was something called the hospital, she was brought in unconscious in seizures; with her relatives hoping she wakes up immediately.
In these 2 scenarios, the risk factors were obvious.
They were blacks: being black connotes a higher risk of having a stroke ( I hear a God forbid).
They were hypertensives: Hypertension is one of the major reasons people have strokes, it is not something to toy with. These days many young people have high blood pressure. Hey you when last did you check your blood pressure? What is your number?
Mama was diabetic : Diabetes increases the risk of having strokes. Diabetes affect small and large blood vessels, affects nerves and can cause deposition of fats on the blood vessels.
Both were menopausal: Before menopause, the hormone mix in ladies protect them to a large extent against stroke, but after that the risk increases.
Sedentary lifestyle : Both Mama and Aunty stay mostly indoors. These days people hardly exercise, and many regular jobs make you seat for a long time without exercise.
Poor drug adherence : In Nigeria almost everyone is a doctor so many times patients determine what they want to take and how they want to take their drugs. I have heard my patients tell me they take their anti hypertensive drugs only when they feel somehow, in fact one opened up to me that he takes his drugs only when he wants to come to the hospital. Also many do not take their antidiabetic medications. Another group cannot afford their medications, they therefore have to damn the consequences.
Listed above are the risk factors for a stroke, which as you can see are highly unspiritual. One cannot help being black or being a woman and a post menopausal one at that, but you can modify your lifestyle by being deliberate in exercising, eating healthy and complying with anti-hypertensive or anti-diabetic medications which on the overall reduce your risks of a stroke.
Check out my next article, The Brain Clock, on subtle signs and symptoms of stroke, unlike the obvious and dramatic ones of seizures and unconsciousness mentioned here. These signs when noted early and help sought in an appropriate medical facility improves clinical outcomes of a stroke and limits disabilites.
Dr. Nyeche Ovundah is a graduate of Human Anatomy and Medicine and Surgery from the University of Port-Harcourt. He has held several leadership positions and is presently the Executive Director of Onyx Health Foundation. He is passionate about educating and developing people using his stethoscope, writing and public speaking. He can be reached on Facebook as Ovundah Nyeche.