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45% percent of people suffer silent heart attacks-Expert

Heart attack

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | The death of Uganda Human Rights Commission- UHRC chairperson Med Kaggwa on Wednesday morning from Hypertension has left the public wondering what could have caused his abrupt death.

Dr William Manyilirah, a Consultant Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon says such a condition happens when coronary arteries or heart vessels narrow suddenly leading to reduced supply of blood and oxygen to the heart muscles. Manyilirah who currently works in Botswana but was formally based at the Uganda Heart Institute says sudden and silent heart attacks that show no symptoms happen to over 45% of the patients.

Those that present with symptoms usually suddenly feel like something is being tightened around their chest even without exertion.

“The pain may radiate to the shoulders and arms. Other symptoms include severe shortness of breathing and sometimes loss of consciousness. That sudden occlusion of a vessel that is talked about is caused by a clot at the site of the affected artery, or by spasm of the artery”, he explained.

He added that for people with heart disease or are hypertensive like Kaggwa was, symptoms such as dizziness, sweating, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, shortness of breath, crushing chest pain, pain in the arms, pain in the jaw and throat, abdominal cramps are highly suggestive of a likely heart attack and that they should seek care immediately they notice them.

While people who get heart attacks can be easily saved with immediate care, the doctor notes that for Uganda sometimes immediate medical interventions are hampered by the fact that there are no well-developed ambulance services and traffic jams make it nearly impossible to initiate lifesaving interventions, as valuable time is wasted in travelling to the next point of care.

“Most hospitals in Uganda are not well equipped to effectively treat cases of heart attacks. Uganda Heart Institute is currently the only hospital fully equipped to offer both thrombolytic therapy and percutaneous coronary interventional therapy. A handful of hospitals in Kampala can offer only limited thrombolytic therapy. That means majority of sufferers of heart attacks in Uganda only survive at the mercy of God”, he added.

According to a report released by Case Clinic where Kaggwa was rushed yesterday, though a one-man resuscitation (CPR) with mouth to mouth respiration and cardiac compression were done by a doctor on scene he didn’t respond.  By the time he was admitted into ICU, he was still unresponsive until he was declared dead at around 9:00 am.

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