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Beware of sudden death

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th January 2006 03:00 AM

Prof Judah Saul Ogaani, 65, woke up in good spirits on Friday, January 13. It was nomination day and the professor for veterinary medicine, makerere University, had been chosen to carry the UPC flag in Madi Okollo constituency contest for member of parliament.

Prof Judah Saul Ogaani, 65, woke up in good spirits on Friday, January 13. It was nomination day and the professor for veterinary medicine, makerere University, had been chosen to carry the UPC flag in Madi Okollo constituency contest for member of parliament.

By Paul Semugoma
Prof Judah Saul Ogaani, 65, woke up in good spirits on Friday, January 13. It was nomination day and the professor for veterinary medicine, makerere University, had been chosen to carry the UPC flag in Madi Okollo constituency contest for member of parliament. His entourage made it amidst ululations to Arua Police grounds after which they retired to his home to plan the next move —– the first rally.
Excitement was high. This was the first time he was doing it and the support was impressive.
Then, suddenly, he died — barely five hours later. “He was seated in his chair when his head started dropping. When we asked him what was happening, he could not breathe,” said his chief campaign agent, Walesco Ogaani. “He lifted his head and took his last breath.”
He was rushed to Arua hospital where doctors declared him dead. He had high blood pressure and asthma.
At one point we will all die, but sudden death is a shock. How could this have happened? Could something have been done to prevent it?
Medical science studies death and its causes. No prediction is possible as to when exactly a person will die, but there are many well-known conditions associated with sudden death. And something can be done to prevent it.

Asthma and
high blood pressure
Ogaani had asthma and high blood pressure. Asthma is a chronic condition characterised by sudden, episodic narrowing of the airways. Oxygen does not reach the lungs; the person fails to breathe and starts suffocating. Symptoms start suddenly, sometimes triggered by events like excitement, exercise and weather changes. Most times, the episode of asthma is brief, lasting hours. But sometimes the failure to breathe becomes so severe that the person suffocates.
High blood pressure is a very deceptive condition. Most of those affected do not feel sick at all, while their blood pressure rises and stays high. They find out when they go to hospital for another condition. They may refuse medicine because they do not want to take pills when they do not feel sick. Yet the heart, the brain and the kidneys are slowly getting affected and this can lead to sudden death. In the brain, stroke occurs when the blood supply is cut off suddenly, or a blood vessel may burst and there is bleeding in the brain, as probably happened with Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

High blood pressure can cause heart attacks, a leading cause of sudden death. A blood vessel supplying part of the heart is blocked. The heart muscle dies, the heart fails to pump blood and death occurs in minutes to hours.
Stress is a contributor to high blood pressure. Prolonged tension or excitement can precipitate strokes and heart attacks, because as the blood pressure rises, the work of the heart is increased and it fails. Stress can also start an asthmatic attack.

Prevention
Asthma and high blood pressure can be controlled. A person suffering from asthma knows when an attack is coming. They need to have a plan of action agreed with their doctor. They should move around with their drugs. In case of severe symptoms, they have to get to the hospital quickly.
High blood pressure can be controlled with drugs. This is key to reducing strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure. Other things one can do include stopping smoking, having a healthy diet, and monthly blood pressure checks. Generally, regular check-ups, especially for people of 40 years and above, are vital.

Other causes
There are many other possible causes of sudden death including severe allergic reactions, shock due to bleeding and clots in the blood system. Heart rhythm problems are a well-known cause. overall, sudden death without a pre-existing disease condition is not common. These conditions can be detected and managed, which is the most vital way of preventing sudden deaths.

The writer is a
medical doctor

Beware of sudden death

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