In February this year, comedian Jasper Muthomi alias MC Jessy lost his grandfather to a sudden cardiac arrest, a condition where the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating.
This death is part of the 12 in every 100 patients who die from cardiovascular diseases in Kenya, according to the Kenya Cardiac Society.
Further data from the Ministry of Health indicate that non-communicable diseases account for about 55 per cent of hospital deaths in Kenya, where heart diseases contribute the highest number.
However, most of the deaths caused by sudden cardiac arrest can be prevented with access to a defibrillator, a device that gives an electric shock to the heart by placing it on the chest.
It leads to death if not treated within 10 minutes.
“We had taken my grandfather to hospital in Meru after he collapsed. He died while doctors were trying to attend to him. Doctors told me that he could have been saved if the hospital had a defibrillator. I later learnt that cardiac diseases were claiming many lives in Meru,” MC Jessy said.
It is this experience that has driven him to cycle for 300 kilometers, from Nairobi to Meru to raise awareness on cardiovascular diseases.
“After learning that hospitals in Meru lack the equipment to resuscitate patients like my late grandfather, I approached Phillips East Africa to source for the machines. We are partnering with Phillips and Kenya Red Cross in the campaign aimed at raising awareness on healthy living and donating five automated external defibrillator machines to Meru hospitals,” he said.
MC Jessy said the two-day cycling challenge will kick off on Thursday this week at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre alongside professional cyclists.
He said the heart diseases awareness campaign will include demonstrating to Kenyans how to conduct first aid on patients.
“Kenya Red Cross teams will demonstrate how to conduct cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on our various stops along the Nairobi-Meru road. We are cycling to encourage Kenyans to adopt healthy lifestyles,” the comedian said.
LACK OF EXERCISE
While launching a heart health awareness campaign dubbed ‘Back to Rhythm’ last year, Phillips CEO Jasper Westerink cited high fat and sugar diets, rapid economic growth, long office hours, lack of exercise and urbanisation for the increase in cardiovascular disease in Africa.
The Kenya Stepwise survey for non communicable diseases risk factors report for 2015 states that about 10 percent of Kenyans aged between 40 and 69 years have a cardiovascular disease risk of more than 30 per cent.
It further states that this group may develop a cardiovascular disease or die from a cardiovascular-related complication in the next 10 years if they do not seek treatment.