‘FG must make stroke screening mandatory’

A medical expert, Professor Mayowa Owolabi, has asked the Federal Government to mandate screening for hypertension, diabetes and high blood fat content in the country to reduce the incidence of stroke, the leading cause of death on the African continent.

Owolabi, a professor of neurology, in an inaugural lecture he delivered entitled “‘Exploring the Stroke Quadrangle Through the Transomics and Spiritual Binoculars: Two Wings of an Eagle” at the University of Ibadan, said there is currently an alarming prevalence of uncontrolled hypertension and other emerging vascular risk factors in the nation that is predisposing many Nigerians to stroke.

According to him, “One out of every two or three African adults are hypertensive and they need to be detected and treated. Only seven per cent as we speak know that they are hypertensive and are on treatment and under control. At least one out of every four individuals will develop stroke in their lifetime. Every minute, at least one Nigerian and at least six Africans develop stroke, in contrast to declining stroke rates in several developed countries.”

Owolabi, a global leader in stroke medication, however, said poor dietary choices, physical inactivity, presence of heart diseases, salt intake and high-income level determine an individual’s chances of developing a stroke.

According to him, daily consumption of green leafy vegetables are protective against all types of stroke, the reverse was the case with increased salt and meat intake.

The neurologist declared “Stroke is a major problem on the African continent. Since 2019, stroke and its risk factors is now the number one killer on the African continent and it is not receiving adequate attention. So we thought of how we can defeat stroke on the continent; how do we prevent, beat it and reduce its burden.  Therefore, we came with the idea of stroke quadrangle. There are four key things that we need to do.

“The first one is to measure the burden of stroke and track it because without this, we will not be able to control this burden or know when we are controlling it. Then we also need to identify the risk factors, the reason it occurs so that we can use that to prevent it (epidemiological surveillance). The second pillar is prevention across the entire life course; the third is acute care for those who already developed stroke to help them recover and the fourth, rehabilitation and reintegration of those already with stroke.”

Owolabi noted that more importantly is what is called primordial prevention, “that is preventing people from developing the risk factors for stroke, hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol.”

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