While the circumstances surrounding the demise of popular music artiste and TV personality, Susan Oluwabimpe “Goldie” Harvey, are still unclear, the need for regular medical checkups, especially for those who lead busy and stressful lives, cannot be overemphasized. Often times, certain illnesses creep up on unsuspecting people. They are usually without obvious symptoms, hence their being called “silent killers”. Two silent killers in particular are responsible for the sudden loss of many precious lives in today’s world.
In the case of blood clots, clinically referred to as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or the ‘economy class syndrome”, clots of blood form in the legs due to the long periods of immobility characteristic of long distance air travel. Travellers sitting in cramped spaces for 8-10 hours or longer are usually at greater risk of DVT.
In most cases, the blood clots dissolve on their own. However in more severe cases, the blood clots detach and travel through the veins to the lungs, causing Pulmonary Embolism (PE).
Symptoms that could be warning signs of blot clots include swelling of the ankles, increased warmth of the skin and redness.
The risk of developing blood clots during air travel is heightened by:
- History of previous blood clots
- Use of oral contraceptives
- Old Age
- Convalescing from recent surgery
- Genetic predisposition to blood clots
To prevent blood clots, it is advisable to drink lots of water during long flights, avoid the intake of alcohol, avoid crossing your legs and create room for your legs by using the overhead cabins for your hand luggage.
Hypertension or high blood pressure, which is deemed the biggest silent killer in sub-Saharan Africa, is a severe medical condition in which the arteries are elevated. Hypertension is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attacks and heart failure.
Rarely accompanied by any symptoms, hypertension is usually diagnosed through screening. Though a few hypertensive individuals complain of headaches, lightheadedness, impaired vision and fainting spell, these symptoms are usually attributed to anxiety.
Preventive steps to avoid hypertension include; reducing salt intake, maintaining body weight, aerobics and a minimal alcohol intake.
Regular screening is the best advice for most adults living in Nigeria. We live in very stressful times and stress is the number cause of hypertension.